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Brittney Griner Returns to Russian Court for Cannabis Trial

Brittney griner, basketball player and Olympic gold medal winner, was back in a Russian courtroom Tuesday for her ongoing trial over cannabis possession after she arrived in Russia earlier this year. Griner was a WNBA champ and Olympic gold medalist. In February, customs officers found less than one gram cannabis oil in Griner’s luggage.

Griner, who was wearing handcuffs at the time, was taken into Khimki (the Moscow suburb that houses the airport) for the seventh hearing. She was then placed in the cage for defendants. She displayed photos of herself in public view to those in the courtroom while she was being held in a cell.

Griner, who pleaded guilty, admitted that she brought the vape cartridges to Russia. She also testified that they were not in her bag. The court was also informed that Griner did not intend on violating Russian law.

Defense Team Contests Griner’s Evidence

During Tuesday’s hearing, Griner’s defense team challenged the analysis of the vape cartridges and questioned prosecution witness Alexander Korablyov, who examined the cartridges taken from Griner’s luggage. A defense expert testified that the cartridges were not analysed in compliance with Russian law.

“The examination does not comply with the law in terms of the completeness of the study and does not comply with the norms of the Code of Criminal Procedure,” forensic chemist Dmitry Gladyshev testified during the court hearing that lasted about two hours, according to a report from CNN.

Blagovolina claimed that the analytical was incompatible because it failed to determine the amount of cannabis oil within the cartridges. Another lawyer representing the basketball star, Aleksandr Boikov, said that “it would be wrong to establish the exact amount” of cannabis the cartridges contained based on Korablyov’s analysis.

Griner’s defense team has also presented evidence to the court that she had obtained a doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana under Arizona’s state medicinal cannabis program.

“There are a lot of factors that will taken by the court into account,” Blagovolina told reporters after Tuesday’s hearing, adding that Griner “admitted that she did bring something, but we need to know what she did bring.”

Griner’s trial will continue on Thursday, when attorneys are expected to deliver their final statements. Blagovolina claimed that Griner is focused and nervous as the verdict nears.

“She still knows that the end is near, and of course she heard the news so she’s hoping that sometime she could be coming home, and we hope, too,” Blagovolina added.

Elizabeth Rood, the charge d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in Moscow, attended Tuesday’s hearing. Afterward, she said that the U.S. would “continue to support Miss Griner through every step of this process and as long as it takes to bring her home to the United States safely.”

U.S. Offers Prisoner Exchange

Griner, despite her guilty plea was incorrectly detained by U.S. State Department. Griner’s conviction could allow her to be released for a possible exchange with the United States.

The administration of President Joseph Biden announced last week that Griner and Paul Whelan were being held in Russia under espionage allegations. This exchange was in prisoner swap for Viktor Bout, who is a convicted Russian arms dealer.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday that Russia has made a “bad faith” response to the offer from the U.S. government. The counteroffer by Russia is not considered serious by U.S. officials, she stated without further explanation. When asked about the Biden administration’s most recent House comments referring to the Russian counteroffer, Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to provide any details.

“Any exchange of information on the subject should be discreet without any ‘loudspeaker diplomacy,’” he told reporters. “Public exchange of positions will not yield any result.”

Griner is a seven-time WNBA All-Star center who has played for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013, including the team’s 2014 league championship crew. She has also won the Olympic gold medal with the U.S. women’s basketball team two times.

Griner played seven seasons in professional basketball during winter time in Russia, a practice that is common among WNBA players. Her salary in Russia is approximately four times that of her Phoenix playing time.