U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner appeared at a Russian court on Tuesday for the fifth hearing of her trial on drugs charges that could carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years.
Griner, a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star who has played in Russia during the league’s offseason, was escorted into the defendant’s cage at a courtroom at the Khimki District Court outside Moscow, bending down to avoid banging her head against the door frame.
Wearing round-rimed glasses and a black sweatshirt, Griner shook hands with her lawyers before taking a seat in a packed courtroom.
The two-time Olympic champion was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Feb. 17 after vape cartridges containing hashish oil were found in her baggage.
Griner, who appealed to U.S. President Joe Biden to secure her release, has pled guilty but denied she intended to break Russian law.
Her case comes at a time when ties between Washington and Moscow are at their worst in decades over Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
U.S. officials and prominent athletes argue the 31-year-old has been wrongly detained and have called for her to be released immediately.
Russian authorities do not consider Griner’s detention illegal and say the case against her is not political despite Moscow’s fraught relations with Washington.