Brittney Griner, star center for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic basketball star, has been under arrest and held in Russia since February when Russian authorities allegedly caught her with several vape cartridges full of hash oil. The government charged her with “large-scale transportation of drugs,” which can carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years in Russia.

The U.S. government reclassified her case in March, claiming Griner was “unlawfully detained.” The Biden administration is trying to make the case that Griner’s detention is partly due to the U.S. and Russia being at loggerheads over the war in Ukraine.

Griner’s drug trial began last week, and Russian experts say she will almost certainly be found guilty and sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. She penned a letter to Biden asking that he not “forget about me and the other American Detainees.”

Associated Press:

″…As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner wrote.

“On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran,” the Phoenix Mercury center added. “It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”

Many of us sympathize with Griner’s situation, and no one should have to endure the barbarity of the Russian prison system. But neither Griner nor her agent nor her lawyer has ever denied she was carrying hash oil in her luggage while on her way to play for her team in Ekaterinburg. She’s not the first American to run afoul of foreign drug laws — Midnight Express was based on a true story — and she won’t be the last.

“We believe the Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner,” NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said on Monday. “President Biden has been clear about the need to see all U.S. nationals who are held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad released, including Brittney Griner. The U.S. government continues to work aggressively – using every available means – to bring her home.”

Griner pleaded with Biden in the letter to use his powers to ensure her return.

“Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore,” Griner said “I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”

Griner supporters want Biden to make a prisoner swap like the one that the U.S. made for Marine veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy. But given the state of relations between the two countries, it would be a longshot. Reed was clearly a political prisoner, being accused of endangering the “life and health” of Russian police officers in an altercation — a charge Reed vehemently denies.

Griner supporters are calling it a “sham trial”:

The Griner supporters claim that since the evidence hasn’t been presented yet, the trial is a “sham.”

The problem with that is the dozen vaping vials filled with hash oil. This isn’t America where there are high standards of evidence and a defendant is presumed innocent. This is Russia. And what’s on the table now might not convict her in America, but it’s apparently a slam-dunk case in Russia.

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