WNBA star Brittney Griner will go on trial in Russia in her cannabis possession case on Friday, a judge has ruled.

The Phoenix Mercury star, who has spent more than four months in a Russian jail, appeared before a judge for a preliminary hearing in the Moscow suburb of Khimki on Monday.

Photos showed the 31-year-old American athlete looking wide-eyed while being led in handcuffs.

The court also extended Griner’s detention for another six months.

Griner had previously been ordered to remain in pretrial detention until July 2.

The athlete could face 10 years in prison if convicted on charges of large-scale transportation of drugs. Fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike in the U.S., acquittals can be overturned.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 27, 2022. More than four months after she was arrested at a Moscow airport for cannabis possession, American basketball star Brittney Griner is to appear in court Monday for a preliminary hearing ahead of her trial. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia.
AP
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 27, 2022. More than four months after she was arrested at a Moscow airport for cannabis possession, American basketball star Brittney Griner is to appear in court Monday for a preliminary hearing ahead of her trial. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Griner, who has spent more than 4 months behind bars, appeared wide-eyed as she arrived in court and had her detention extended for another 6 months.
AP

Griner was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for allegedly being in possession of vape cartridges containing cannabis oil less than a week before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Russia, Griner’s supporters had taken a low profile in hopes of a quiet resolution, until May, when the State Department reclassified her as wrongfully detained and shifted oversight of her case to its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs — effectively the U.S. government’s chief negotiator.

That move has drawn additional attention to Griner’s case, with supporters behind the “We are BG” campaign encouraging a prisoner swap like the one in April that brought home Marine veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy.

Russian news media have repeatedly raised speculation that she could be swapped for Russian arms trader Viktor Bout, nicknamed “The Merchant of Death,” who is serving a 25-year sentence on conviction of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and providing aid to a terrorist organization.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner leaves a courtroom after a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 27, 2022. More than four months after she was arrested at a Moscow airport for cannabis possession, American basketball star Brittney Griner is to appear in court Monday for a preliminary hearing ahead of her trial. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Griner could face 10 years in prison if convicted on charges of large-scale transportation of drugs.
AP
US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on June 27, 2022. - Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and WNBA champion, was detained at Moscow airport in February on charges of carrying in her luggage vape cartridges with cannabis oil, which could carry a 10-year prison sentence. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)
Griner was detained at Moscow’s main airport in February for allegedly being in possession of cannabis oil.
AFP via Getty Images

Others have suggested that she could be traded together with Paul Whelan, a former Marine and security director serving a 16-year sentence on an espionage conviction that the United States has repeatedly described as a set-up.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asked Sunday on CNN whether a joint swap of Griner and Whelan for Bout was being considered, sidestepped the question.

“As a general proposition … I have got no higher priority than making sure that Americans who are being illegally detained in one way or another around the world come home,” he said. But “I can’t comment in any detail on what we’re doing, except to say this is an absolute priority.”

Any swap would apparently require Griner to first be convicted and sentenced, then apply for a presidential pardon, Maria Yarmush, a lawyer specializing in international civil affairs, told Kremlin-funded TV channel RT.

Brittney Griner (42) shoots against Chicago Sky's Azura Stevens (30) during the first half of Game 4 of the WNBA Finals, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Chicago
The Phoenix Mercury star could potentially be swapped for a Russian arms dealer
AP

Last week, more than 40 organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, and the NAACP, sent a letter to President Biden urging him “to get Brittney back home to America immediately and safely.”

The move came after Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, blasted the Biden administration after officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow failed to put through a call from Brittney on the couple’s fourth wedding anniversary. The call was supposed to have been patched through the embassy, and Griner attempted to call her wife 11 times, according to reports.

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