Russian court schedules start of Brittney Griner’s trial for Friday, her lawyer says

Griner — who has been held in Russia since her arrest at a Moscow airport on allegations of attempted drug smuggling — attended the preliminary hearing in person Monday, arriving at court handcuffed and flanked by guards in black vests, according to a photo by AFP photographer Kirill Kudryavstev. She wore a gray T-shirt and glasses, the photo shows.

Boykov previously told CNN the hearing would occur behind closed doors at the Khimki court, just outside Moscow.

Griner, 31, a Phoenix Mercury player who plays in Russia during the WNBA’s offseason, was arrested February 17. Russian authorities claimed she had cannabis oil in her luggage and accused her of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The US State Department, however, has classified Griner as “wrongfully detained,” a department official told CNN in May.

Griner’s detention, which has been repeatedly extended, has sparked a wave of support among dozens of organizations in the US that have joined Cherelle Griner, Brittney Griner’s wife, in calling on President Joe Biden to strike an exchange deal with Russian authorities to release Griner and bring her home safely as soon as possible.

READ: Dozens of organizations sign letter calling on President Biden to strike deal for Brittney Griner’s release

More than 40 organizations — including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, the National Urban League and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association — signed a letter addressed to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Last week, CNN reported that — according to a senior State Department official — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Cherelle Griner one-on-one on Wednesday. Cherelle said last week she hasn’t talked to her wife since February 17.

Griner was named an honorary WNBA All-Star Game starter last week, with the All-Star Game scheduled to take place on July 10 in Chicago.