Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

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US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner, center, arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow, Russia, on July 1.
US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner, center, arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow, Russia, on July 1. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

The prosecutor in the trial of WNBA player Brittney Griner announced the charges against her during a hearing Friday in a court near Moscow, Russian state news agency TASS reported. 

At the Khimki City Court, Griner was accused by a prosecutor of smuggling less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage. The prosecution believes that then Griner had the intention to import the drugs into Russia’s territory and put the prohibited substances into a backpack and a suitcase, according to TASS.

The Phoenix Mercury star plays in Russia during the WNBA’s off-season and was arrested at a Moscow airport a week before Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year.

When Griner arrived on a flight from New York to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Feb. 17, “two cartridges of hashish oil were found in her hand luggage during an inspection,” according to TASS.

Cannabis oil is subject to control on the territory of the Russian Federation and is classified as narcotic drugs, according to TASS. 

The offense of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance is punishable by up to 10 years in prison in Russia. 

US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Elizabeth Rood said she was able to speak with Griner inside the courtroom and that the US government is working “very hard” to bring Griner and other “wrongfully detained citizens” safely home. 

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

Griner’s lawyers, Alexander Boykov and Maria Blagovolina, said they were unaware of any plans to exchange Griner for a Russian prisoner held in the US in an impromptu presser at the end of the first day of her trial. 

The court will continue to hear the case next week on July 7 at 2:30 p.m. local time.

Later on Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that officials from the US embassy in Russia “attended Brittney Griner’s trial today in Moscow.”

“We – and I personally – have no higher priority than bringing her and other wrongfully detained Americans, including Paul Whelan, home,” he said in a tweet Friday, referencing another unlawfully detained American there.

“We won’t stop working until they are reunited with their loved ones,” Blinken said.

What Griner’s wife says: Cherelle Griner, the wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, told CNN on Thursday she wants US officials to do whatever they have to do to bring the basketball legend home – and she needs to see them do more.

“It’s really, really difficult. This is not a situation where the rhetoric is matching the action,” she said. “I do have to unfortunately push people to make sure that the things they’re telling me is also matching their actions, and so it’s been the hardest thing to balance because I can’t let up. It’s over 130 days and BG’s still not back.”

She also said she would “absolutely” like to meet with US President Joe Biden and humanize Brittney to him so he can “see BG as we see BG.”

“While everyone wants to tell me they care, I’d love for him to tell me he cares,” she added.

Read more from her interview here.

CNN’s Abby Phillip, Steve Almasy and Jennifer Hansler contributed reporting to this post.





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