Defence lawyer says Griner hopes a prisoner swap would allow her to go dwelling.
With the Russian trial of US basketball star Brittney Griner anticipated to conclude this week, the Russian authorities has turn out to be more and more crucial of public appeals by the US to launch Griner, lamenting the usage of “megaphone diplomacy”.
The 2-time Olympic gold medallist was detained at a Moscow airport in February when she entered the nation with vape canisters containing hashish oil. Griner has pleaded responsible, however stated bringing the canisters into Russia was not intentional.
Throughout the listening to, on Tuesday prosecutors known as a state narcotics skilled who analysed hashish present in Griner’s baggage. Her defence fielded a specialist who challenged the evaluation, charging that it was flawed and didn’t conform to official guidelines.
Griner was escorted into court docket in handcuffs and positioned inside a cage through the trial in Khimki, a city on the northern fringe of Moscow. Whereas within the cage, she held up private images.
Final week Griner had pleaded for leniency, saying that she by no means supposed to interrupt any legal guidelines.
She faces as much as 10 years in jail if convicted.
The trial adjourned till Thursday, when closing statements are scheduled.
The US has promoted a prisoner change that would safe her launch. Russian officers have stated an change can solely occur after the trial is over.
“She nonetheless is aware of that the top (of her trial) is close to and, in fact, she heard the information, so she is hoping that someday she may very well be coming dwelling,” Griner’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina stated.
The US has claimed that Griner and Paul Whelan, an American who was taken into custody by Russia in December 2018 on expenses of espionage, are being “wrongfully detained”. A Russian court docket convicted Whelan in June 2020 and sentenced him to 16 years in jail.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has known as the prisoner swap, which reportedly would change Whelan and Griner for Russian arms supplier Viktor Bout, a “substantial proposal”. Relations between Moscow and Washington have turn out to be more and more strained over Russia’s struggle in Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stated the discharge of Griner and Whelan is a “high precedence” and pushed Russian overseas minister Sergey Lavrov to just accept the prisoner change proposal throughout a telephone name final week.
The Lavrov-Blinken name marked the highest-level identified contact between Washington and Moscow since Russia despatched troops into Ukraine greater than 5 months in the past, the direct outreach at odds with US efforts to isolate the Kremlin.
Because the US steps up its effort to carry Griner and Whelan dwelling, the Kremlin has additionally bristled at options that the trial is politically motivated and that the 2 Individuals are being improperly detained.
“We nonetheless consider that any exchanges of knowledge on this subject ought to be discreet,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated to reporters. “Megaphone diplomacy and the general public change of opinions is not going to result in outcomes.”
Griner’s lawyer has stated that an change can be “legally attainable”. Bout, the Russian arms supplier the US is providing in change for Whelan and Griner, is named the “Service provider of Dying” and is at the moment serving a 25-year jail sentence within the US.
Nevertheless, a Kremlin spokesperson advised reporters final week that “a concrete outcome has not but been achieved”.
Griner’s trial, which started in July, has featured testimony from a US doctor who confirmed that she had a prescription to make use of hashish oil for a power harm. Russian teammates from UMMC Ekaterinburg, the place Griner was travelling to play earlier than the beginning of the US basketball season, have additionally testified earlier than the court docket vouching for her good character.
In a letter to Biden, Griner stated that she was “terrified” that she may very well be imprisoned in Russia and urged him to do every part in his energy to carry her dwelling.
The Kremlin has stated the case towards Griner has nothing to do with politics and that she is dealing with the potential of jail time for violating Russian legal guidelines, and that the medicinal use of hashish within the US has no bearing on the trial in Russia.