Brittney Griner Trial Date Set For July 1

Brittney Griner appeared in court in the Moscow suburb of Khimki today. Her trial date for alleged cannabis possession will begin on July 1st, and she has been ordered to remain in custody for the duration of the trial.

Griner could face up to 10 years in Russian prison if convicted on the charges of large-scale transportation of drugs. The AP reported that fewer than 1% of criminal defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted.

In May, the State Department reclassified Griner's case as wrongfully detained which shifted her case to its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs. That effectively is the United States governments chief negotiator.

This sets the stage for a potential prisoner swap with the Russians, similar to the one in April that brought home Marine veteran Trevor Reid in exchange for a Russian pilot. Russian news media continue to raise the possibility of a deal including Russian Arms dealer Viktor Blount. Blount is currently serving a 25-year sentence for conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and providing air to terrorists.

That trade would seem to be lopsided, with Griner charged for carrying a vape pen with cannabis residue. The U.S. could include Paul Whelan in the deal for Blount. He is a former Marine and security director who is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage.