Brittney Griner’s trial delayed as witnesses reportedly fail to show

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Brittney Griner’s trial, which began Friday, was adjourned until Thursday after several witnesses reportedly failed to appear before the Russian court.

The WNBA star was arrested in February in a Moscow area airport for the alleged possession of cannabis. Griner faces up to 10 years in a Russian prison on charges of the “large-scale transportation of drugs.” In May, the U.S. State Department reclassified Griner as “wrongfully detained.” Her case was then shifted to the U.S. government’s department specializing in hostage affairs.

Griner appeared Monday at a court in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, where her detention was extended for an additional six months, a switch from her original order to remain in pretrial detention until July 2.

According to TASS, a Russian news agency, the prosecutor maintained Friday that Griner was “aware enough” that transporting narcotics into Russia was prohibited. In response, Griner reportedly expressed she was aware of the charges against her and would make her plea later.

Griner’s detention comes at a heated political moment during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leaving many to speculate that her release could come via a prisoner swap, similar to the move that brought home Marine veteran Trevor Reed in April.

Stateside, the Phoenix Mercury are teaming up with Congressman Greg Stanton of Arizona to host a rally at the Footprint Center on Wednesday calling for Griner’s release. The event will be free and open to the public.

Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, will speak at the rally, where the Mercury will also be collecting new and gently used shoes as part of BG’s Heart and Sole Shoe Drive in collaboration with Phoenix Rescue Mission.

The former mayor of Phoenix and longtime Mercury season ticket holder, Congressman Stanton introduced a resolution calling for Griner’s immediate release, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives.