Brittney Griner Trial Continues in Russia, Focusing on WNBA Star's Medical Use of Cannabis

KHIMKI, Russia (AP) — American basketball star Brittney Griner’s drug trial in a Russian court Tuesday focused on testimony that cannabis, while illegal in Russia, is considered to have a legitimate medicinal use.

Griner has acknowledged that she was carrying vaporizer bottles containing cannabis oil when she was arrested in February at a Moscow airport, but maintains that she had no criminal intent and that the bottles inadvertently ended up in her luggage because she packed them hastily.

“We’re not arguing that Brittney took it here as medicine. We keep saying that she unintentionally brought him here because he was in a hurry,” defense attorney Alexander Boykov said after the session in which a Russian neuropsychologist testified about the worldwide use of medical cannabis.

“The Russian public needs to know, and the Russian court first and foremost needs to know, that it was not used for recreational purposes in the United States. It was prescribed by a doctor,” he said.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Medical testimony and Griner’s admission that she had the canisters is intended to bring her a light sentence.

“We have a lot of mitigating factors. So we hope that the court will take it into consideration. And the courts in Russia, in fact, have a very wide discretion regarding sentencing,” said Maria Blagovolina, another of Griner’s lawyers.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and Phoenix Mercury standout’s trial began on July 1, but only five sessions took place, some lasting just an hour.

Griner’s slow trial and five-month detention have drawn sharp criticism from her teammates and supporters in the United States, which formally declared her “wrongly detained,” a designation Russian authorities flatly rejected.

Elizabeth Rood, charge d’affaires of the US Embassy, ​​attended Tuesday’s court session. Griner “confirms that he is doing well and as well as can be expected under the circumstances,” she told reporters.

Griner was arrested in February amid heightened tensions between the United States and Moscow before Russia sent troops to Ukraine later that month. Some supporters maintain that she is being held in Russia as a pawn, possibly for a prisoner swap. US soccer standout Megan Rapinoe said last week that she “is being held as a political prisoner, obviously.”

Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry lashed out at the US claim that Griner is being unfairly detained, saying Russian laws must be respected.

“If an American citizen was taken in connection with the fact that she was smuggling drugs, and she does not deny it, then this should be in accordance with our local Russian laws, and not those adopted in San Francisco, New York and Washington. ”, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“If drugs are legalized in the United States, in various states, and this is done for a long time and now the whole country will become addicted to drugs, that does not mean that all other countries are following the same path.” she added.

Russian media have speculated that Griner could be swapped for prominent Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is jailed in the United States, and that Paul Whelan, an American jailed in Russia for espionage, could also figure in a swap.

US officials have not commented on the prospects for such a trade. Russian officials have said no trade could be discussed until the legal process against Griner is concluded. It’s unclear how long the trial will last, but a court has authorized Griner’s detention until Dec. 20.

Earlier sessions of the trial included character witness testimony from the manager and captain of the Russian team Griner played for in the off-season, along with written testimony that included a letter from the doctor saying he had authorized her to use cannabis for pain treatment.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.