(NewsNation) — The trial for Brittney Griner continues this week. As the WNBA star prepares for her next court appearance Tuesday, she’s looking at a possible 10-year sentence.
The Russian Foreign Ministry maintains Griner’s arrest and detention is justified. The ministry’s spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, criticized U.S. officials for saying Griner’s arrest was unjust and that her charges were boosted up.
“If a U.S. citizen was taken in connection with the fact that she was smuggling drugs, and she does not deny this, then this should be commensurate with our Russian local laws and not with those adopted in San Francisco, New York and Washington,” Zakharova said.
The spokesperson went on to say just because parts of the U.S. have decriminalized marijuana and “the whole country will become drug-addicted” does not mean that the rest of the world should follow in America’s footsteps.
Griner, 31, is an Olympic gold medalist and seven-time All-Star basketball player who earns extra money in the WNBA offseason by playing in Russia.
She was arrested in February as she went through Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Authorities report they discovered vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage.
There seems to be a renewed sense of urgency for Griner’s release, after she entered a guilty plea to drug possession charges in a Moscow courtroom.
With the possibility of a 10-year sentence in mind, the White House says it is doing everything possible to bring Griner home safely. Some have questioned if “everything” could mean a prisoner swap.
There has been speculation about a potential prisoner swap between Americans Paul Whelan and Griner for Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer known as “the merchant of death.” Bout’s attorney, Steve Zissou, feels confident Moscow will be willing to make the exchange. Still, neither U.S. or Russian governments have made official statements about a swap.
The U.S. State Department insists Griner’s arrest was unjustified. Just last week, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution condemning her arrest and calling for her immediate arrest.