WNBA star and Houston native Brittney Griner appears to be moving closer to learning her fate as she sits in a Russian prison on drug charges.
The former Nimitz and Baylor standout center was given a July 1 trial date during a court appearance in Moscow on Monday. Griner, who has been jailed in Russia since February, also had her detention extended another six months. Griner was ordered to remain detained throughout the duration of her trial.
She was previously ordered during a pre-trial hearing to remain in detainment until Saturday.
Griner, who plays basketball for a Russian team during the WNBA offseason, was arrested four months ago before boarding a flight to return home near Moscow after she was said to have attempted to travel with vape cartridges containing oils from cannabis. Griner was held for weeks without anyone knowing her whereabouts and she has not been physically seen since.
That changed Monday when cameras captured photos of the 6-foot-9 center being led into the courtroom in handcuffs, wearing glasses and gray T-shirt while appearing disheveled.
Monday’s hearing comes after months of continued delays by the Russian courts and attempts by the State Department and other government officials, including President Biden, to get her set free. It is widely believed that Griner’s imprisonment is more connected to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s disdain for the United State due to the country’s involvement in Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The State Department has declassified Griner as wrong detained.
Pressure has been mounting for the U.S. to gain Griner’s release in WNBA and NBA circles, elected government officials and local leaders in Houston.
There has been some talk of a prisoner swap similar to what was done to free U.S. Marine Trevor Reed in February. Reed’s freedom was granted in exchange for a Russian pilot who was being held in the U.S.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declined to give specific on what government officials are doing behind the scenes to possibly free Griner.
“As a general proposition… I have got no higher priority than making sure that Americans who are being illegally detained in one way or another around the world come home,” Blinken said. “I can’t comment in any detail on what we’re doing, except to say this is an absolute priority.”
Griner could be looking at 10 years in prison if she is convicted of the drug charges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.