As it happenedended1657458906

Brittney Griner trial - live: Wife describes ‘gut-wrenching time’ in rally with Al Sharpton

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WNBA Star Brittney Griner's Supporters Rally For Her Release

More than four months after her arrest in Moscow, US women’s basketball star Brittney Griner has returned to court for the continuation of her trial for drug charges.

The two-time Olympian was led into court at Khimki City in handcuffs, clutching a photo of her wife Cherelle. She was joined by her lawyers and US embassy staff. Only a few journalists are permitted in court.

The charges against her include intentionally transporting narcotics. Facing up to 10 years in prison in Russia, Griner pleaded guilty but added there was no intent to break the law and she had packed in a hurry. She is hoping for leniency from the court.

Griner will give testimony later with the next court hearing scheduled for 14 July. Elizabeth Rood of the US Embassy was able to speak with her in court and share with her a letter from President Joe Biden.

A centre for the Phoenix Mercury, Griner had played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia during the WNBA off-season, Griner was arrested when Russian airport security say they found vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage.

Russian officials have said Griner can seek clemency or appeal after any verdict is handed down.

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Martin Luther King, Jr’s daughter weighs in on Brittney Griner case

Bernice King, daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr, is the latest leader to call for Brittney Griner to be released from prison in Russia.

“I am very concerned about #BrittneyGriner and her holistic well being,” Ms Kind wrote on social media on Saturday. “I urge U.S. government officials, including our State Department, to persist in working diligently to expedite Brittney’s release.”

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A tale of two Brit(t)neys

Will the Brittney Griner movement turn out the way the Free Brittney did?

That’s a pointed question that’s been raised by Twitter user @ItsDanaWhite.

“Need a world where Brittney Griner gets the movement of support Britney Spears received,” he wrote on Saturday.

Fans spent years pushing for pop star Britney Spears to be released from a highly restrictive financial conservatorship controlled by her father.

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Brittney Griner’s ‘Heart and Sole’ shoe donation programme continues during lockup

Brittney Griner isn’t just known for her high-flying achievements on the court as a member of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

The detained basketball star also started a programme in the city called Heart and Sole that donates shoes to unhoused people walking the hot streets of Arizona barefoot.

Here’s more about the initiative, courtesy of ESPN.

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Brittney Griner wouldn’t be in Russia if WNBA paid better

Brittney Griner wouldn’t never been arrested while playing in the Russias basketball league over the summer if it wasn’t for the pay disparity between the WNBA and the NBA, according to Boston Globe sports columnist Christopher Gasper.

As he writes, “Griner and other WNBA players are compelled to play in foreign countries to maximize their worth.”

Read his full piece here.

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ICYMI: What happened to WNBA star Brittney Griner?

WNBA star Brittney Griner, 31, has been detained in Russia since February after drugs were allegedly found in her luggage by officials at a Moscow airport.

Her detainment occurred shortly before Russia launched its war in Ukraine, with geopolitical tensions making it undoubtedly more difficult to secure her release.

Ms Griner’s family, friends and fans — alongside many public figures — have been calling on Russia to free her for months and for the US State Department to intervene.

Her trial began on Friday (1 July), days after a court ordered her detainment be extended until December.

Here’s everything we know about the ordeal:

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Brittney Griner ‘only playing’ in Russia due to gender pay gap, says US teammates

Basketball star Brittney Griner - who appeared in a court in Moscow this week - was only playing in Russia because of the low wages paid to women athletes in the US, which her friends and colleagues say make it tough to make a living.

Griner, 31, who was brought to a court in the Moscow suburb of Khimki in handcuffs, has been charged with drug smuggling after she was arrested at an airport allegedly carrying cannabis oil in her luggage. She faces up to ten years in jail if convicted.

Her supporters say she is the victim of wrongful arrest and have called on President Joe Biden and others to press for her release. She was detained one week before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Her wife, Cherelle Griner, told CNN she’s struggled to keep her composure, while urging the US authorities to do more.

Andrew Buncombe has more.

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Brittney Griner chosen as honorary WNBA All-Star starter

Brittney Griner will have a place at the WNBA All-Star Game, being named an honorary starter by Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

Griner has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17 after authorities at an airport outside of Moscow said she had vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her bag.

“During each season of Brittney’s career in which there has been an All-Star Game, she has been selected as an All-Star,” Engelbert said. “It is not difficult to imagine that if BG were here with us this season, she would once again be selected and would, no doubt, show off her incredible talents. So, it is only fitting that she be named as an honorary starter today and we continue to work on her safe return to the U.S.”

Read the full story.

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Brittney Griner: Outrage grows as Russia keeps holding WNBA star

Outrage is growing on social media as Russian authorities continue to detain WNBA star Brittney Griner.

Officials with the ​​Russian Federal Customs Service announced that they arrested the “two-time Olympic basketball champion in the US team” at some point in February, claiming they found hashish oil-filled vape cartridges in her luggage.

“What a nightmare scenario. I cannot even imagine what she must be feeling [right now],” New York Times columnist Roxane Gay tweeted.

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WATCH: Oscar winner calls for Brittney Griner's release

Calls to bring Brittney Griner home have come from all across US society, including the Oscars.

In May, Ben Proudfoot, the director of Queen of Basketball, a documentary short about Hall of Fame player Lusia Harris, called on Joe Biden to save the WNBA star.

Here’s what he said.

Oscar winner calls for Brittney Griner's release
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Brittney Griner’s sister pleads for Russia to ignore politics and free her

The family of Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star Brittney Griner has asked president Joe Biden to do “whatever necessary” to get her released from detainment in Russia.

The two-time Olympic medalist was detained in Russia in February on allegations that she was bringing marijuana through a Moscow-area airport. The Phoenix Mercury player competed in European leagues during the WNBA offseason, with that being the reason for her travel to Russia.

“My sister has been wrongfully detained in Russia for over 100 days now,” the player’s sister Shekera Griner said in an emotional video.

“To many of you, Brittney is affectionately known as BG, the WNBA star, the gold-medalist. To us, she is a daughter, she is a sister, she is an aunt, she is a cousin, she’s a niece, she is a wife,” she added.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar has the details.

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