Brittney Griner has the fourth day of hearings in her drug trial

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RIGA, Latvia – Lawyers for WNBA star Brittney Griner told a Russian court on Friday that doctors in the United States prescribed her medical cannabis for chronic pain when the basketball player was facing her fourth day in a lawsuit over drug charges that could send her in prison for up to 10 years.

The short hearing began shortly after noon. 10 local time; Laughter entered the court wearing a Nirvana T-shirt and was, as usual, placed in the defendant’s cage. She held up a recent photo of WNBA All-Star players all wearing jerseys with her number, 42.

Griner, who plays for Phoenix Mercury in the US and UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia, has pleaded guilty to carrying 0.702 grams of cannabis oil in her luggage when she was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport a week before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. . . She told the court that she accidentally packed the two vape cartridges and did not intend to break Russian law.

In the midst of the Griner trial, Russia is warning the United States of pressure to exchange prisoners

As part of the presentation of evidence to the defense, one of Griner’s lawyers, Maria Blagovolina, a partner at the law firm Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin & Partners, read a medical statement indicating that Griner was prescribed medical cannabis by US doctors as part of treatment for chronic pain and other conditions. The trial was then adjourned until July 26.

After the hearing, Blagovolina told reporters that Thursday’s session, in which the director and captain of Griner’s Russian team gave proof of character to her defense, had tried her out.

“She is very tired; yesterday was a very emotional day for her. It was difficult for her, “said Blagovolina.

She told The Washington Post that Griner accidentally brought vape cartridges into Russia that contained cannabis oil, prescribed by a doctor in Arizona.

She added that the defense team would elaborate on more details about Griner’s medical problems in future hearings. On Friday, the defense presented several medical statements and the results of anti-doping tests, which indicated that no traces of banned substances were found.

Griner’s fate is captured by the diplomatic crisis between Washington and Moscow over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, and her supporters hope the two countries will reach an agreement on a prisoner exchange. Her trial has been kept in unusual secrecy, with journalists having only limited access and completely excluded from the trial on Thursday.

On Friday, however, journalists were given access to the hearing.

Friday’s hearing was the fourth day in a lawsuit that her defense team expects will include up to five hearings. Her sentencing date is unknown, but Russian officials have stated that no discussions on a prisoner exchange will take place until the trial ends.

The State Department says Griner has been wrongfully detained, and the White House describes the circumstances of the detention as “unacceptable.”

Elizabeth Rood, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, said the United States is committed at the highest level to bringing home Griner and all Americans wrongfully detained abroad.

“I just want to say that in the hearings yesterday and today, what became very clear was the huge amount of respect and admiration both in the United States and here in Russia, where Mrs Griner has been playing basketball for seven years, not only for her professional performance, but for her character and integrity, ”she said.

The outcry over Griner’s arrest has darkened US public concern over Paul Whelan, a Navy veteran and security consultant serving a 16-year prison sentence after being convicted of espionage in a closed trial in 2020. He says he was hit.

Given Griner’s fame as a Phoenix Mercury Center and prayers for the Biden administration to secure her release, Russia has exploited its influence and repeatedly warned that public pressure will not help her cause. On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova urged the US authorities “not to take advantage of this sensitive issue affecting the fate of certain individuals and we advise them to abandon vain attempts to pressure us.”

Washington, she said, should “work through established channels. It simply will not work any other way.”

There is growing speculation about a possible booty involving Griner and Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving 25 years in the United States for conspiring to sell weapons to a foreign terrorist group and for killing US citizens. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said his top priority is to ensure the release of Griner, Whelan and other Americans who he said were mistakenly jailed abroad.

Griner recently wrote to Biden begging him not to forget her and other prisoners, saying, “I’m afraid I may be here forever.”

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