NBA stars rally for Brittney Griner, tried in Russia for possession of narcotics

NBA stars rally for Brittney Griner, tried in Russia for possession of narcotics

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Brittney Griner writes it herself in a letter to President Joe Biden, who arrived in the Oval Office on Monday, July 4, American Independence Day: “I realize you take care of so much. But please don’t forget me.” The American women’s basketball star is on trial this Thursday, July 7, in Moscow for “possession of narcotics”: she was arrested in February, at Sheremetyevo airport, in the Russian capital, when she was to participate in the local championship .

The Phoenix Mercury player came to Moscow to play during the American offseason, a common practice for basketball players who sometimes earn a better living abroad than at home. It is then that theCustoms officials claim to have found liquid for electronic cigarettes and 0.7 grams of cannabis in his luggage.

For her Phoenix Mercury teammates, the indignation, especially in the media, is not strong enough. “If it was LeBron James, the star of the NBA, summarizes his trainer Vanessa Nygaard, he would already be home.” Opinion shared by the 2022 NBA champion, Stephen Curry, star of the Golden State Warriors: “If you compare her situation to the noise and awareness that someone else’s situation would have created…I don’t like to play this game because right now you just have to bring her back. At her place.”

An online petition for his release has gathered 300,000 signatures and support is also increasing on social networks with the hashtag (keyword) “I am BG” (“I am Brittney Griner”).

Everything is done in Washington so that Brittney Griner can return to the United States, discreetly, according to White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre: “Ms. Griner spoke with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Saturday. This was their second call in ten days. Secretary Blinken also spoke with Ms. Griner recently. The President has made this issue his top priority.”

What is the basketball player risking? The affair took on a strong political connotation in the midst of the Russian-American crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. AïnIf, if the quantity of drug incriminated – 0.7 grams – is low, Russian case law on the subject raises fears of a severe penalty: between five and ten years in prison. Friday, June 30, his trial was adjourned, some witnesses not having appeared.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has already announced that Brittney Griner could ask for a pardon, but her case may be settled at the diplomatic level. In recent years Moscow and Washington have repeatedly exchanged convicted prisoners on their soil. Regarding Brittney Griner, the Russian press has already mentioned a possible exchange with the Russian arms trafficker, Viktor Bout, sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in prison in the United States.

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