March 24, 2023


Advocacy. Mediation. Success.

A misconception about the Russian legal system may have skewed public perception of Brittney Griner’s detainment

Brittney Griner.AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

  • WNBA superstar Brittney Griner has been in Russia on purported drug fees given that February.

  • People could imagine Griner’s guilty regardless of her US government designation as “wrongfully detained.”

  • An skilled stated trusting Russia can be perilous, as the nation “does not have rule of regulation.”

Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia for much more than three months.

The 6-foot-9 WNBA celebrity was taken into custody right after agents at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport claimed they discovered vape cartridges made up of hashish oil in her baggage.

The Biden administration quietly labored to negotiate her launch and harmless return to the US in the early times adhering to her arrest, which WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert advised Insider was part of an inner strategy to “say considerably less and press a lot more privately.”

Brittney Griner.

Griner with Workforce Usa.AP Photo/Eric Gay

But early in Could, the US shifted its method by officially designating Griner as “wrongfully detained.” The go sends a “solid sign that the US authorities does not think that there is a authentic circumstance in opposition to her,” one particular skilled who has navigated quite a few hostage circumstances earlier informed Insider. The expert requested to be anonymous to respect Griner’s negotiations, but the person’s id is regarded to Insider.

Even despite the designation — which Esquire Electronic chief authorized analyst Aron Solomon advised Insider is “diplomat converse for ‘the charges are BS'” — a great deal of Us citizens may have presumed Griner’s guilt.

But the supposition that the Russian authorities, law enforcement, or judicial process can and really should be dependable is a radically unsafe a single, Solomon warned.

“It is quite usual for American viewers to not have an understanding of this, but I imagine it can be critically important point: Russia does not have rule of legislation,” Solomon informed Insider. “I know that sometimes in The united states we chat much too much about rule of regulation and we converse about it in extremely summary phrases, but rule of legislation suggests points like you are unable to just grab somebody from an airport and retain them until eventually you imagine you’re all set not to.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur Location, Russia, on April 12, 2022.Sputnik/Evgeny Biyatov/Kremlin by way of Reuters

This is why the Russian authorities has been equipped to lengthen Griner’s detention with no apparent end date in sight. It can be why she produced a seemingly impromptu courtroom overall look a whole 6 times in advance of she was scheduled for her future listening to.

And it’s why, really should her circumstance ever go to trial — which Solomon is deeply skeptical it will — Griner almost unquestionably “will not be afforded a honest and equitable lawful course of action,” he explained. After all, you can find a cause why the conviction price in Russia is bigger than 99%.

“Presumption of guilt is a Russian matter in the context of how foreigners are perceived,” Solomon stated. “In The us, we must be extra evolved and presume innocence.”

Brittney Griner

Griner leaves a courtroom soon after a Could 13 listening to just outdoors of Moscow.AP

Solomon expects a single of two matters to participate in out as Griner continues to be in Russian custody. At some point in the potential — whether or not it be in a week, a month, or a yr — the US and Russia could partake in “a political detainee exchange,” related to the just one that freed fellow American detainee Trevor Reed late previous thirty day period. Russian media sources have prompt that the Kremlin may possibly concur to trade Griner for Viktor Bout, a convicted arms trafficker dubbed “the Service provider of Demise.”

The second chance, Solomon says, “is that we will simply discover that she has been tried and sentenced on the Russian legislation.” Griner — who faces up to 10 several years in jail primarily based on her prices — could even wind up serving her sentence in “a Russian labor camp,” like American detainee Paul Whelan.

Given the gravity of her existing conditions, each Solomon and the aforementioned hostage negotiation skilled are deeply skeptical that Griner has dedicated a criminal offense.

Brittney Griner high fives her Phoenix Mercury teammates.

Griner large fives her Phoenix Mercury teammates.AP Image/Elaine Thompson

“If people genuinely unpack the narrative, they are going to discover another person with significantly as well considerably to lose right here,” Solomon claimed. “A great money actively playing basketball as a celebrity there, the possibility of a 10 years in a labor camp if she manufactured the very same drug mistakes that some People in america have designed in Russia — it just won’t incorporate up that she’d be that reckless.”

“Persons will need to dig further,” he included.

Griner’s agent, Lindsay Colas, beforehand informed Insider in a statement that “no matter of Russian legal proceedings… we anticipate the White Dwelling to use all alternatives to convey [Griner] home quickly and safely and securely.”

Browse the initial report on Insider