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Trial starts in Russia for WNBA star Brittney Griner

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Trial starts in Russia for WNBA star Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner's trial began Friday in Russia as she faces up to 10 years in prison for cannabis oil allegedly found in vape cartridges in her luggage. Photo by Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons

July 1 (UPI) -- The Moscow cannabis oil possession trial of WNBA player Brittney Griner began Friday, with Griner facing a possibility of up to 10 years in a Russian prison if convicted.

Griner, 31, appeared in court Friday wearing a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt and handcuffs. She faces charges of transporting drugs after Russian officials allegedly found cannabis oil in vape cartridges in her luggage in February.

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A prosecutor told the court Friday that Griner was transporting less than a gram of cannabis oil in two cartridges for personal use, CNN reported. Cannabis oil is classified as a narcotic drug in Russia, Russian BFM Radio reported.

Griner's attorney Alexander Boikov told reporters Friday after the trial adjourned that a customs official who searched Griner's bag testified and Griner did not make any comment on the criminal charges. She did not enter a plea.

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The trial resumes July 7, when more witnesses are expected to present evidence.

Maria Blagovolina, another lawyer for Griner, said Griner had "no complaints over the condition of her detention."

Griner has been jailed in Russia since Feb. 17, and her detention has been extended by six months as the trial unfolds.

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Griner is a two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist and a Phoenix Mercury player who plays in Russia during the WNBA off-season.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said earlier this week that Griner is "wrongfully detained, unjustly detained and we have made that clear as an official determination of the U.S. government."

Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, wants President Joe Biden to directly intervene to try to free Brittney Griner.

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U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Elizabeth Rood said in an emailed statement to the Washington Post that U.S. diplomats care deeply about Griner's case and were able to speak to her in the courtroom Friday.

"She is doing as well as can be expected in these difficult circumstances," Rood said.

According to the U.S. State Department one other American, former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, is also being wrongfully held in Russia.

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