Brittney Griner’s Lawyers Argue for Leniency in Russian Court

Wearing a black and grey sweatshirt with the slogan “Black lives for peace” printed on the again, Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who has been detained in Russia on drug prices, appeared in a courtroom close to Moscow on Tuesday as her protection crew continued to current proof that she didn’t intend to interrupt the regulation.

She was escorted to a courtroom by a bunch of cops, considered one of them carrying a balaklava, and stood in a steel cage, holding images of her family members, teammates and pals, in keeping with video footage from the scene printed by Russian state tv.

After being detained in a Moscow airport one week earlier than Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Ms. Griner has grow to be an unlikely pawn in a diplomatic recreation between Moscow and Washington. With her responsible plea making the decision appear a foregone conclusion, specialists stated that her finest hope was that the Biden administration may discover a option to swap her for a high-profile Russian being held by the United States.

During courtroom hearings, her protection crew argued for leniency, saying that Ms. Griner had not meant to smuggle narcotics into Russia and that, like many different worldwide athletes, she had used hashish to assist ease ache from accidents.

A narcology skilled testified in courtroom on Tuesday, Ms. Griner’s attorneys stated, to current a case that in some international locations, together with the United States, medical hashish “is a well-liked therapy, particularly amongst athletes.”

“With the prescription in place, Brittney could have used it for medical, however not for leisure functions,” stated Maria Blagovolina, considered one of Ms. Griner’s attorneys and a accomplice at Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin & Partners, a agency in Moscow.

At the earlier listening to, the attorneys introduced a word from Ms. Griner’s physician recommends hashish to deal with her ache. Mrs. Griner was additionally anticipated to seem in courtroom on Wednesday, when she may very well be known as to testify.

Mrs. Griner had traveled to Russia as a result of she performed for a crew in the nation to earn extra cash in the course of the low season. Russian customs officers found two vape cartridges with cannabis oil — a hashish by-product — in her baggage.

Mrs. Griner was taken into custody close to Moscow and accused of willfully smuggling the vape cartridges, a cost that may carry a sentence of as much as 10 years in jail.

On July 7, Ms. Griner pleaded responsible to the costs, saying that she had unintentionally carried a banned substance into Russia as a result of she had packed it in a rush. The Russian authorities have signaled that no attainable alternate can happen earlier than a verdict in courtroom.

American officers have stated that they’re doing all they’ll to return Ms. Griner dwelling, arguing that she was wrongfully detained. Last week, Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, stated that such statements had been “political, biased, and illegitimate.”

“If an American citizen was detained on drug trafficking prices and she or he doesn’t deny it herself, then this could correspond to Russian laws, and to not the legal guidelines adopted in San Francisco,” Ms. Zakharova stated.

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