WNBA star Brittney Griner committed a “serious offense” that is supported by "indisputable evidence,” the deputy spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexey Zaytsev, said Wednesday.
“Basketball player Brittney Griner, who was taken into custody at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arrival from New York, is accused of smuggling and storing hash oil, which is classified as a narcotic drug," Zaytsev said.
"This is a serious offense, supported by indisputable evidence and liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years, according to Art. 229 Part 1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation," Zaytsev added.
Attempts to present Griner’s detention as “illegal” do not stand up to criticism, according to Zaytsev.
“The law has been violated, and arguments about the innocent nature of Griner's predilection -- which, by the way, is punishable in some US states -- are inappropriate,” Zaytsev said.
The spokesman added that “no one stops Brittney Griner from filing an appeal or asking for clemency” after the court issues a verdict.
Some background: Griner, 31, who has played in Russia during the WNBA's offseason, was arrested February 17 in Moscow, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine.
She went on trial at a court near Moscow on Friday on drug smuggling charges.
Griner's supporters and US officials say she has been wrongfully detained and have called for her release as fears mount that she is being used as a political pawn amid rising tensions between Russia and the US.
Earlier this month, she wrote a handwritten letter to US President Joe Biden saying she is "terrified" she will be detained in Russia "forever" and pleaded with the President not to forget about her and other American detainees.