Brittney Griner’s trial resumes amid intensified diplomacy

by | Aug 1, 2022 | Sports

MOSCOW — Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate has expanded from a tiny, cramped courtroom on Moscow’s outskirts to the highest level of Russia-U.S. diplomacy.The WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist returns to court on Tuesday, a month after the beginning of the trial in which she could face 10 years in prison if convicted. As the trial has progressed, the Biden administration has faced rising calls for action to win her release.In an extraordinary move, Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week spoke to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, urging him to accept a deal under which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would go free.Although details of the offer remain shrouded, Blinken’s public announcement of a proposal was at odds with the convention of keeping prisoner-release negotiations tightly under wraps. When American Trevor Reed, serving time for assaulting a police officer, was freed in April in exchange for a Russian drug trafficker, no clues of an imminent swap had emerged.The Lavrov-Blinken call also was the highest-level known contact between Washington and Moscow since Russia sent troops into Ukraine more than five months ago. The direct outreach risks undermining a core message to U.S. allies that isolating Russia could force the eventual withdrawal of troo …

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