WNBA star Brittney Griner was last seen Monday as she went to court and found out her detention in Russia would be extended for another six months. She also found out that her trial would be starting on Friday.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist and center for the Phoenix Mercury was arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17, just one week before Russia invaded Ukraine. She has been charged with smuggling and transporting cannabis after authorities found vape cartridges allegedly containing hashish oil in her luggage.
Legal experts are now warning that the Russian court won’t present the WNBA star a chance of justice. According to ESPN’s T.J. Quinn, Griner will face a “show trial” that will almost certainly result in a guilty verdict.
William Pomeranz, an expert on Russian law, said it’s “a foregone conclusion” the court will “confirm the power of the state.” He believes Griner would be best served just pleading guilty.
“Traditionally, the best defense is to admit your guilt and hope you get a lesser sentence,” Pomeranz said. “There’s not a lot of examples of people raising strong defenses and getting acquitted.”
If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.
Quinn added that Russia will likely require Griner to admit guilt as part of any agreement to free her. Pleading “not guilty” could result in Russian officials “making her life more miserable in the meantime.”
Griner’s wife Cherelle told the Reverend Al Sharpton on his radio show that she hasn’t heard her voice since, but shared that Griner has conveyed to her through letters that she is “struggling and terrified.”
“I won’t let them break me,” Griner said in the letters, according to Cherelle. “I know they’re trying to, but I’m going to do my best to just hold on until I can get home.”
“I hope that that’s quick,” said Cherelle, “because I’m not okay.”