Brittney Griner’s Attorneys Argue for Leniency in Russian Courtroom


Sporting a black and grey sweatshirt with the slogan “Black lives for peace” printed on the again, Brittney Griner, the W.N.B.A. star who has been detained in Russia on drug costs, appeared in a courtroom close to Moscow on Tuesday as her protection crew continued to current proof that she had not meant to interrupt the legislation.

She was escorted to a courtroom by a bunch of law enforcement officials, one in every of them sporting a balaklava, and stood in a steel cage, holding images of her kin, teammates and pals, in keeping with video footage from the scene revealed by Russian state tv.

After being detained in a Moscow airport one week earlier than Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Ms. Griner has turn out to be an unlikely pawn in a diplomatic sport between Moscow and Washington. Together with her responsible plea making the decision appear a foregone conclusion, consultants mentioned that her finest hope was that the Biden administration may discover a option to swap her for a high-profile Russian being held by america.

Throughout 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 knowledgeable testified in courtroom on Tuesday, Ms. Griner’s attorneys mentioned, to current a case that in some nations, together with america, medical hashish “is a well-liked remedy, particularly amongst athletes.”

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

On the earlier listening to, the attorneys offered a notice from Ms. Griner’s physician recommending hashish to deal with her ache. Ms. Griner was additionally anticipated to seem in courtroom on Wednesday, when she might be referred to as to testify.

Ms. Griner had traveled to Russia as a result of she performed for a crew within 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.

Ms. 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 fees, saying that she had unintentionally carried a banned substance into Russia as a result of she had packed in a rush. The Russian authorities have signaled that no attainable change can happen earlier than a verdict in courtroom.

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

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

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