Brittney Griner Accused of Moving 'Significant Amount' of Cannabis Oil in First Russian Court Appearance

Griner's trial will continue on July 7, and she faces up to 10 years in Russian prison

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner in Russian court on July 1. Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty

WNBA star and Olympic gold-medalist Brittney Griner was accused by a Russian prosecutor of moving a "significant amount" of cannabis oil during her first appearance in court on Friday, according to Russian media.

Griner, 31, was walked into the court room — located in Khimki, a Moscow suburb — in handcuffs, wearing a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt. Once inside, she was placed in a cage with a bottle of water and a bag of cookies, according to Russian media reports, The Washington Post said.

The prosecutor reportedly called two witnesses during the trial; the customs agents who searched Griner's bag when she was first arrested on Feb. 17, Griner's lawyer Alexander Boikov told reporters.

Griner was not asked to say if she was innocent or guilty, NPR reported.

Following Griner's court appearance, US Deputy Chief of Mission Elizabeth Rood spoke outside the courthouse and emphasized that "the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained Ms. Griner."

Rood also said she had "the opportunity to speak with Ms. Griner in the courtroom."

"She is doing as well as can be expected during these difficult circumstances, and she asked me to convey that she is in good spirits and is keeping up the faith," Rood said.

Griner's next court date was set for July 7 at 2:30 p.m. Moscow time.

Griner's trial comes more than four months after she was detained. The WNBA star was arrested on February 17 at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow after officials allegedly found vape cartridges containing hash oil, an illegal substance in Russia, in her luggage.

The U.S. State Department later officially classified Griner as wrongfully detained by the Russian Federation.

"Our position for some time on this has been very clear. Brittney Griner should not be detained. She should not be detained for a single day longer," Ned Price, State Department spokesperson, said in a press briefing on June 14.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 06: Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury during the first half in Game Four of the 2021 WNBA semifinals at Footprint Center on October 06, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Brittney Griner. Christian Petersen/Getty

The two-time Olympic gold medalist's wife, Cherelle Griner, expressed her gratitude "for this overwhelming show of support from Congress," in a recent statement. "We need to be doing all we can to keep Brittney's case on the forefront and finally put an end to this nightmare," she added.

Cherelle, who calls her wife "BG," said that she's very concerned about her wife's wellbeing during an appearance on Al Sharpton's SiriusXM show Keepin' It Real.

"BG is struggling, she's human," Cherelle said. "She's there terrified, she's there alone."

RELATED VIDEO: Over The Years, WNBA Players Have Been Fighting For An Increased Focus On Racial Equality And Social Justice

Griner's WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury, released a statement confirming a bipartisan resolution to push for Griner's release had been passed by the House of Representatives.

"The House of Representatives has passed Congressman Greg Stanton's bipartisan resolution. Stanton and many others are continuing to work with the White House, State Department and Brittney's family to secure her safe return home," per the Mercury statement.

If convicted, Griner faces up to 10 years in prison.

Updated by
Julie Mazziotta

Julie Mazziotta is the Sports Editor at PEOPLE, covering everything from the NFL to tennis to Simone Biles and Tom Brady. She was previously an Associate Editor for the Health vertical for six years, and prior to joining PEOPLE worked at Health Magazine. When not covering professional athletes, Julie spends her time as a (very) amateur athlete, training for marathons, long bike trips and hikes.

Related Articles