KHIMKI, Russia — A lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner at her drug possession trial in Russia on Friday gave the court docket a U.S. physician’s letter recommending she use medical hashish to deal with ache.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and standout for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February after customs officers mentioned they discovered vape canisters containing hashish oil in her baggage. She faces as much as 10 years in jail if convicted on fees of transporting medicine.
In court docket final week, Griner pleaded responsible and acknowledged possessing the canisters however mentioned she had no prison intent and mentioned they have been in her baggage as a result of she packed rapidly in her return to Russia to play for the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball group throughout the WNBA’s offseason.
In Russia’s judicial system, admitting guilt does not mechanically finish a trial. Since that plea, her court docket classes have targeted on in-person and written testimony to her good character and athletic prowess.
Griner wore a Nirvana T-shirt as she sat contained in the defendant’s cage that’s customary in Russian courtrooms. At one level, she held up a photograph of fellow WNBA gamers sporting her identify and No. 42 on their uniforms in tribute throughout a part of Sunday’s All-Star Recreation in Chicago.
“The attending doctor gave Brittney suggestions for using medical hashish,” mentioned her lawyer, Maria Blagovolina. “The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Division of Well being.”
Medical marijuana just isn’t authorized in Russia.
The protection on Friday additionally submitted exams she underwent as a part of an anti-doping examine, which did not detect any prohibited substances in her system.
The subsequent listening to of Griner’s case was scheduled for July 26.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have mentioned they’re doing all they might to win her launch, in addition to that of different Individuals the U.S. considers “wrongly detained” by Russia, together with former Marine Paul Whelan who’s serving 16 years on an espionage conviction.
Washington could have little leverage with Moscow, although, due to sturdy animosity over its army operation in Ukraine.
“Within the hearings yesterday and at the moment what turned very clear is the great quantity of respect and admiration each in the US and right here in Russia the place Miss Griner has been enjoying basketball for seven years, not just for her skilled achievements however for her character and integrity,” U.S. Embassy cost d’affaires Elizabeth Rood mentioned exterior the courthouse within the Moscow suburb of Khimki, the place the airport is situated.
The director and group captain of UMMC Ektaerinburg testified on her behalf on Thursday.
Russian media have speculated that Griner might be swapped for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, nicknamed “the Service provider of Dying,” who’s serving a 25-year sentence within the U.S. after being convicted of conspiracy to kill U.S. residents and offering support to a terrorist group.
Russia has agitated for Bout’s launch for years. However the broad discrepancy within the seriousness of their instances may make such a commerce unpalatable to Washington. Others have instructed that Griner might be traded together with Whelan, who’s serving 16 years in Russia on an espionage conviction that the U.S. has described as a setup.
The State Division’s designation of Griner as wrongfully detained strikes her case beneath the supervision of its particular presidential envoy for hostage affairs, successfully the federal government’s chief hostage negotiator. The classification has irritated Russia.
Requested about the potential of Griner being swapped for a Russian jailed within the U.S., Deputy Overseas Minister Sergei Ryabkov, the senior Russian diplomat, has famous that till her trial is over “there are not any formal or procedural causes to speak about any additional steps.”
Ryabkov warned that U.S. criticism, together with the outline of Griner as wrongfully detained and dismissive feedback concerning the Russian judicial system, “makes it troublesome to have interaction in detailed dialogue of any potential exchanges.”
Griner’s detention has been approved via Dec. 20, suggesting the trial may final months. Griner’s attorneys, nevertheless, mentioned they anticipate it to conclude across the starting of August.