Brittney Griner Back in Russian Court as Lawyers Plead for Leniency

Escorted by a masked police officer with a canine, together with her wrists handcuffed, the American basketball star Brittney Griner appeared in a Russian courtroom on Tuesday for one more listening to in a trial that’s more likely to finish together with her conviction in the course of this month, her attorneys mentioned.

Top-of-the-line gamers of her technology, Ms. Griner has been caught in a high-stakes rivalry between Moscow and Washington that has become outright confrontation with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And because the case is heard in a courtroom, the wrangling over Ms. Griner’s destiny has shifted more and more to the diplomatic enviornment, with Russia and america signaling her doable involvement in an change for high-profile Russians held in custody in america.

Final week, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken mentioned the American authorities had “put a substantial proposal on the table,” though he declined to debate the small print. On Thursday, he mentioned the matter along with his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, of their first cellphone name because the conflict in Ukraine. However no breakthroughs had been reported, and no progress is anticipated earlier than a decide within the city of Khimki close to Moscow delivers a verdict within the case.

Mr. Griner, 31, was detained in a Moscow airport whereas touring to Yekaterinburg, Russia, to play for a neighborhood crew there about one week earlier than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Customs officers discovered two cartridges containing vape oil in her baggage.

Information of her detention was made public solely after the conflict began, nonetheless. She was charged with trying to smuggle a big quantity of unlawful narcotics into Russia, an offense that carries a sentence of as much as 10 years in jail.

Final month, Ms. Griner plead responsible to the fees, stressing that she had not supposed to interrupt Russian legislation and that the unlawful substance had been in her baggage because of oversight whereas packing in a rush. In Russia, a responsible plea doesn’t finish a trial, and the proceedings are anticipated to proceed till mid-August, in accordance with her authorized crew.

The case is scheduled to renew on Thursday.

Her attorneys, Maria Blagovolina and Aleksandr Boikov, are attempting to steer the decide to melt the eventual sentence. That they had one in every of Mr. Griner’s Russian teammates, Yevgeniya Belyakova, testify, together with the crew’s director and physician. Her authorized crew has additionally argued that she was licensed to make use of medicinal hashish in Arizona, the place she has performed for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013, to mitigate ache from accidents to her backbone, ankle and knees.

Throughout her personal testimony in courtroom final week, Ms. Griner described how upon detention she had confronted a complicated and generally bewildering Russian authorized system. Her rights weren’t defined to her and a lawyer was offered solely 16 hours after her detention started, she mentioned. Ms. Griner additionally mentioned that she had been instructed to signal papers with no rationalization of what they implied and that an interpreter, offered by the legislation enforcement, had translated “almost nothing.”