3 things to know about the case of Britney Grenier, NBA star detained in Russia for drug smuggling

Britney Greiner arrives at court in Khimki, near Moscow (Russia, July 7, 2022.) Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP

This Thursday, July 7, the NBWA player pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in the second hearing of her trial, and faces up to ten years in prison in Russia.

My wife is an American hero. These are the words of Cheryl, the wife of Britney Grenier, the American basketball star who has been detained in Russia since February 17. This double Olympic gold medalist was arrested on the tarmac of Moscow-Sheremetyevo Airport, in possession of liquid cannabis oil, and has since been detained in Russia. Far from her country and relatives, she does not know at the moment what fate is reserved for her. This Thursday, July 7, the second day of her trial, the basketball player pleaded guilty to drug trafficking (on the advice of her lawyer) in front of the Khimki court on the outskirts of Moscow. She faces up to ten years in prison.

Conditions of his detention

The American basketball star, head coach of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Phoenix Mercury, landed in Russia in February to play a Europa League match. On the occasion, she joined Russia’s UMMC Yekaterinburg team, which she has reportedly won in the Women’s European League four times. Release . In the aftermath of the confrontation, when the basketball player was about to board a plane from New York to Moscow airport, customs discovered in her bag smoke containing a “liquid with a special smell”: cannabis. From a height of 2 meters 06, Britney Grenier was handcuffed and immediately arrested. Russia has not directly and publicly acknowledged the arrest of Britney Greiner. Prior to March 6, the Russian Federal Customs Service had only clarified that it was holding a “member of the NBA and two-time Olympic basketball champion with the US team”.

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Named, Lindsey Kagawa Colas, his agent, then announced on US channel ESPN, his agent that Britney Greiner was “in close contact” with his family, teams, WNBA and NBA. “As this is an ongoing legal case, we cannot comment further on the specifics of her case, but we can confirm that while we work to get her home back, her mental and physical health remains our primary concern,” she added. .

After four months in detention, the trial of Britney Grenier finally began on Friday, July 1 in Russia. An opportunity for many personalities in the sports world to show their support for their teammates. “If you compare her situation with the noise and awareness that someone else’s situation would have created… I don’t like to play this game, but right now you just need to go home. She is,” said Stephen Curry, the 2022 NBA champion. At the same time, a petition for his release was opened on the Internet, which was signed by approximately 319,737 people.

His message to Joe Biden

At the same time, Britney Greiner is also struggling on her side to get out of the situation. The person who won the Basketball World Cup with the United States in 2014 and 2018, wrote a letter to the President of the United States, Joe Biden, in early July. “I’m terrified to be here forever,” she wrote. I realize you’re dealing with a lot, but please don’t forget me and the other prisoners. Please do whatever you can to get us home.”

In her letter, the basketball player admits that she has voted only once in her life: in 2020, for the current US president. Then she added, “I believe in you.” I still have so much to do with my freedom that you can help get it back. I miss my wife. I miss my family. “I miss my teammates,” the 31-year-old continued. as pointed out shearing The arrest of Britney Greiner in Russia is also worrisome “given her status as an athlete and her identity as a black LGBT woman”. Vladimir Putin has always opposed homosexuality, and announced in 2020 that he would not legalize marriage for everyone.

The letter has not been fully disclosed so as not to clarify the conditions of detention for the top player and the harsh treatment she will be subjected to. According to her lawyer, she is nevertheless authorized to send and receive messages from the United States, even though it is under the control of the Russian authorities.

Bargaining chip for Russia

On the American continent, everyone is now working for his release. “We will do everything in our power to return Britney Greiner safe and sound,” White House spokeswoman Karen Jean-Pierre said. but how ? Britney Grenier was arrested in Russia just a few days before Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, and it could become an instrument of diplomatic and political conflict.

In this sense, there are several possible scenarios: it could serve as a bargaining chip for the Kremlin, and become a hostage to the Putin regime, although the latter has been in a stalemate between the United States and NATO since its invasion. «La détention d’un Américain de haut niveau pourrait être une manière pour la Russie de gagner du poids dans l’impasse politique et économique avec Washington au sujet de l’invasion de l’Ukraine», ont de aux journalistéclarés The The New York Times. As for rumors of a possible prisoner exchange, some are already talking about the release of Victor Bout, a Russian arms smuggler, who in 2012 was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the United States.

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