More than five months have passed since Brittany Griner tried to cross into Russia and instead faced drug charges that could land her in prison for years.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time NBA All-Star has been “wrongfully detained” by Russia after allegedly bringing vape cartridges filled with hashish oil into his luggage on his return to play for him, according to the United States government. Professional team there.
Griner remained in pre-trial detention for more than three months before this month’s trial. If there is no verdict, he can stay in jail until December 20. However, his lawyers expect a decision in August.
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A voice for the voiceless’:Brittany Griner in the mural, Wrongfully Detained Americans
Here’s a timeline of the events leading up to Griner’s arrest.
February 17: Stopped at Griner Airport
Although the public would not know for more than two weeks, Griner had been detained by Russian authorities. Photos released later showed him going through security at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on his way back to play for his Russian professional basketball team, UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Griner’s arrest would not be made public for nearly three weeks. Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas) later said on March 9 that the arrest took place on February 17.
February 24: Russia invades Ukraine
After weeks of intense military activity near the countries’ shared border, Russia launched a bloody offensive in Ukraine. In response, the US has imposed military aid to Ukraine and economic sanctions on Russia.
March 5: News breaks about Brittany Griner’s arrest
The Russian Federal Customs Service said they detained a “professional basketball player, member of the US National Basketball Association, two-time Olympic basketball champion on the US team.” Russian state news agency TASS identified the player as Griner.
Russian Federal Customs Service keeps vape cartridges filled with Griner “cannabis oil”.
The NBA, Phoenix Mercury and USA Basketball all said they were monitoring the situation.
More:‘Hostage diplomacy’: Potential Brittany Griner prisoner swap with Russia is both promising and dangerous
More:Don’t forget Brittany Griner, WNBA star and Russian prisoner, is a person too opinion
March 6: The US government speaks about Griner
At a press briefing, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was first asked about Griner’s arrest.
“We have an embassy team working on the case of other Americans detained in Russia,” Blinken said alongside Moldovan President Maia Sandu. “We are doing our best to ensure that their rights are respected and honored.
When asked about Griner’s case, Blinken referred generally to “all Americans abroad.”
March 7: Cheryl Griner speaks
Brittany Griner’s wife, Cheryl Griner, posted an emotional Instagram message thanking supporters and confirming that Britney Griner has been in Russia for weeks.
“My heart, our heart, is skipping a beat with each passing day,” Cheryl Griner wrote. “I miss your voice. I miss your presence.,” You are our person! There are no words to express this pain. I hurt, we hurt. We look forward to the day we love you as a family. ”
March 17: Pre-trial detention extended
Russian state media said earlier in the day that Griner’s pre-trial detention had been extended until May 19. A US State Department official told USA TODAY Sports that the embassy in Moscow had denied consular access.
March 23: Griner granted permission to meet with US officials
Consular access was eventually granted, and State Department spokesman Ned Price said Griner was in “good condition.”
April 27: Trevor Reed is released
An American believed to be “wrongfully detained” in Russia, former Marine Trevor Reed, has been released in a prisoner exchange. Griner and Paul Whelan are in custody.
Reid appeared at a rally for Griner in her hometown of Houston, Texas on June 9 and advocated for her and Whelan’s release.
May 3: US classifies Griner as ‘wrongfully detained’
The US State Department said it had reclassified Brittany Griner as “wrongfully detained” by the Russian government. As such, Griner’s case is transferred to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Matters within the State Department.
May 6: WNBA season begins
The WNBA season begins on a bittersweet note. Teams display “BG 42” decals on the court and players wear “We are BG” shirts throughout the season.
May 25: Cheryl Griner on Good Morning America
Cheryl Griner goes on “Good Morning America” and tells Robin Roberts that she wants President Joe Biden to act and bring his wife home.
“I just keep hearing, ‘He’s got power,’ ‘He’s a political pawn,'” Cheryl Griner said. “If they’re holding him because they want you (Biden) to do something, I want you to do it.”
May 27: Brittany Griner 100 days in custody
100th day of Brittany Griner’s detention in Russia.
June 13: State Department officials meet with Mercury
State Department officials, including officials from the Office of Hostage Affairs, met with members of the Mercury about the Biden administration’s efforts to secure his release.
June 27: Pre-trial detention extended by 6 months
A judge set Griner’s trial to begin on Friday. The charges Griner faces could carry up to 10 years in prison.
July 1: Trial begins
Russian legal experts characterized the trial as a “fraud,” but Griner’s trial began with the testimony of two witnesses and the absence of two others.
July 4: Griner’s letter to Biden released
Griner’s representatives shared a few lines from the handwritten note to Biden, including:
“…As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the security of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I fear I may be here forever,” Griner wrote.
July 6: Biden, Harris call Cheryl Griner
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris speak by phone with Cheryl Griner.
“The President called Cheryl to assure her that he is working to secure Britney’s release as quickly as possible,” the White House said in a statement.
July 7: Griner pleads guilty
Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges, saying she accidentally packed the cartridges in her luggage.
“I want to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intention. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner said in English, per Reuters.
According to experts, the guilty plea was also a tool to secure a more lenient sentence.
July 14: Griner receives support in court
Back on the court, Griner at one point posted a photo of fellow WNBA players wearing her name and number 42 on their uniforms in tribute to part of the 2022 All-Star Game.
The captain and general manager of UMMC Ekaterinburg also testified on behalf of Griner’s character.
July 15: Attorney argues Griner is allowed to use marijuana
“The attending physician gave Britney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis,” said her lawyer, Maria Blagovolina. “The permit was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health.”
July 26: Attorneys for Brittany Griner argue for cannabis use
Griner’s lawyers questioned a narcologist who said cannabis could be used to treat chronic pain. His team did not dispute that the vape cartridges should not have been brought and that they were accidentally packed.
July 27: US offers ‘substantial’ prisoner swap
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States had offered to bring home Griner and Paul Whelan, Americans serving 16 years in prison for espionage in the U.S. dispute and held in Russian custody since 2018.
CNN reported that the US had nicknamed Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer, the “merchant of death”.
“One of the key priorities for us is the utility of sending clear, direct messages to the Russians,” Blinken said. “This includes the withdrawal of Brittany Griner and Paul Whelan, and compliance with the grain agreement.”
July 29: Blinken speaks with the Russian foreign minister
Blinken contacted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine. It was a “clear and direct conversation” regarding Griner and Whelan’s release. Lavrov and Russia responded by suggesting the US keep the talks secret.
August 2: Prosecutors call a drug expert
Griner’s defense pointed to a doctor’s prescription for the use of medicinal cannabis as the reason Griner accidentally packed the cartridges. However, the state responded by calling in a narcotics expert who analyzed a sample of what officers found.
Closing statements are scheduled for Thursday, August 4.
Follow Chris Bumbaka on Twitter @BOOM read.