The world has been waiting for news about Brittney Griner after she was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, less than a week before Russia sent troops into Ukraine, per the Associated Press. Since then, Brittney, 31, has remained in Russian custody on charges of f large-scale transportation of drugs. In the first clear photos of the American sports star since her arrest, Brittney appeared uneased as she was led into a preliminary hearing before her July 1 trial.
At first, Brittney’s supporters had taken a low profile hoping for a quick and quiet resolution. When those efforts fell apart in May, the State Department reclassified her as wrongfully detained, per the AP, and then shifted her case to its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs. Basically, the United States government’s chief negotiator is on the case.
The AP reports that Brittney might be included in a prisoner swap, with Russian news media raising speculation that she might be exchanged for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms trader nicknamed “The Merchant of Death.” Viktor is serving a 25-year sentence on conviction of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and providing aid to a terrorist organization. However, Brittney was arrested for having vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, while Bout’s crimes are involved in the deadly global arms trade. This swap would seem like a poor deal on the U.S.’s side.
If convicted, Brittney could face up to 10 years in prison. The AP reports that “fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike in the U.S., acquittals can be overturned.”