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Brittney Griner's trial over drug smuggling charges in Russia is set to begin on Friday.
The WNBA superstar faces up to 10 years in prison if she's convicted, which she likely will be.
Experts warn that this is just a "show trial" and that the result is "predetermined" against Griner.
Russian authorities have scheduled a trial for Brittney Griner.
The WNBA superstar — who has been in custody for more than four months — has seen her pre-trial detainment extended several times since her February 17 arrest for alleged possession of vape cartridges containing hashish oil.
Beginning July 1, Griner's lawyers will finally present her case in a court just outside of Moscow. But that certainly doesn't mean the wrongfully detained two-time Olympic gold medalist will receive a fair trial or even have a chance at securing her freedom, experts warn.
"Court here should always be in quotes, and so should trial," Jonathan Franks, an expert who has navigated several hostage situations, told Insider. "Because this is not a court and it's not going to conduct a trial. It's going to conduct a PR and propaganda exercise for the [Russian] regime."
Franks, who recently helped free American Trevor Reed from wrongful detainment in Russia, explained that Russia does not have rule of law and thus will almost certainly conduct a "show trial" for Griner's case. Given that Russian courts have a 99% conviction rate and offer little chance for an appeal, Franks says he is confident that "the outcome is predetermined" for Griner, regardless of what her lawyers present in court.
"Even discussing how a trial works confers some legitimacy on what is likely to be a kangaroo process, even if she has exculpatory evidence," Franks said. "I have no idea what evidence her side has. It could happen like Trevor [Reed]'s where all this great evidence — actually a first-class defense — is put on, and the judge simply writes the ruling as if that favorable testimony for the defendant never existed."
Esquire Digital Chief Legal Analyst Aron Solomon agrees. Like Franks, he warned that Griner and her attorneys will be facing "a kangaroo court," which Oxford Languages defines as "an unofficial court held by a group of people in order to try someone regarded, especially without good evidence, as guilty of a crime or misdemeanor."
"This isn't rule of law," Solomon told Insider. "It's antithetical to the legal system and justice."
Franks also questioned why the Russians "haven't allowed the press in to observe" Griner's pre-trial hearings. On Monday, when Griner's July 1 trial date was scheduled, the so-called "closed administrative meeting" did not include reporters.
Alarmingly, there were also "no US Embassy officials present for the hearing," according to NPR Moscow Correspondent Charles Maynes.
—Charles Maynes (@cwmiii3) June 27, 2022
"If they do not allow reporters and the [US] Embassy into the courtroom, where reporters generally are allowed," Franks said, then there will be no "objective record of the proceedings [or] somebody who's sitting there to tell the rest of the world about it."
"If the intent is to have a fair proceeding, why won't they let the press in?" he questioned.
As far as Solomon is concerned, "this case is already decided."
"The real issue," he added, "is going to be what the penalty [or] punishment is."
Should she be found guilty for large-scale transportation of drugs, Griner could face up to 10 years in Russian prison. Solomon previously told Insider that the key to Griner's release likely lies in the US and Russia partaking in "a political detainee exchange" similar to the one that freed Reed in April.
"Wrongful detentions are never resolved judicially," Franks added. "They're resolved politically."
Read the original article on Insider