Brittany Griner back in Moscow court as Russia warns US

Moscow specifically warned the US against publicly pressuring WNBA star Brittany Griner to ensure her release from Russian prison as her trial resumed on Thursday. grinner entered into a guilty plea When she last appeared in court a week ago, what analysts believe may have been her best option – in the hope of pardon or at least leniency – the Russian court system’s near-perfect conviction rate. looking at.

Thursday was the third hearing in the Phoenix Mercury player’s trial. He is facing up to 10 years in prison on drug possession and trafficking charges. Prosecutors say Griner has already spent nearly five months in custody after being detained at a Moscow airport with a vape cartridge containing cannabis-derived oil.

His confession was seen as a bid by his legal team to make an expeditious decision and prevent the trial from being dragged out, as any attempt by Washington to secure his release until a court process by Moscow. Not likely to answer. old.

The Biden administration considers the basketball star “wrongfully detained”, and legal experts believe Griner’s best chance of running free is if Russia and the US agree to a prisoner swap. can be.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “We urge the US government not to speculate on sensitive matters that affect the fate of specific people, and we encourage us to pressurize and take practical actions through established channels.” Recommend to avoid wasted efforts to concentrate. A press briefing on Thursday.

WNBA star Brittany Griner pleads guilty to drug charges in Russia


“Griner’s legal proceedings are ongoing, and until they are exhausted, it is too early to discuss any option for him to return home,” Zakharova said.

Russian media speculated that the Kremlin would try to exchange Griner for Viktor Bout, a convicted arms dealer known as a “merchant of death” who has been in US custody since 2008. Another name floated by Russian authorities is that of Roman Seleznev, who is serving a 27-year prison sentence in the US for cyber fraud.

At Thursday’s hearing, the court heard defense witnesses who testified to Griner’s character. Maxim Ryabkov, head of Russian basketball club UMMC Ekaterinburg, where Griner plays during the US off-season, said he had never “seen or heard” him using drugs in the seven years he worked with Griner.

The team’s captain, Evgenia Belikova, testified at the hearing that Griner was a “responsible person” and added that she believed it would have been impossible for Griner to use drugs and perform on the team, their demanding sport. Looking at the program.

The judge scheduled the next hearing on Friday morning, and Griner is expected to testify.

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