Brittney Griner again in Moscow court docket as Russia warns U.S. towards “strain” for prisoner swap

Moscow warned the U.S. towards exerting strain, particularly in public, to safe the discharge of WNBA star Brittney Griner from a Russian jail as her trial resumed on Thursday. Griner entered a responsible plea when she final appeared earlier than the court docket one week in the past, which analysts imagine might have been her best choice – in hope of a pardon or at the least leniency — given the Russian court docket system’s near-perfect conviction charge.

Thursday’s was the third listening to within the Phoenix Mercury participant’s trial. She’s dealing with as much as 10 years in jail on drug possession and smuggling expenses. Griner has already spent about 5 months in custody after being detained at a Moscow airport with what prosecutors say had been vape cartridges containing cannabis-derived oil.

Her request for forgiveness was seen largely as a bid by her authorized group to get a verdict as shortly as potential and stop the trial from dragging out, as Moscow is unlikely to answer any makes an attempt by Washington to safe her launch till the court docket course of has performed out.

The Biden administration considers the basketball star “wrongfully detained,” and authorized specialists imagine Griner’s greatest likelihood of strolling free is that if Russia and the U.S. can comply with a prisoner swap.

“We urge the U.S. authorities to not speculate on such delicate issues which have an effect on the fates of particular folks, and we advise to chorus from futile makes an attempt to strain us and give attention to sensible work via established channels,” Russian International Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated at a press briefing on Thursday.

WNBA star Brittney Griner pleads responsible to drug expenses in Russia


“Griner’s authorized proceedings are ongoing, and till they conclude, it’s untimely to debate any choices of her return house,” Zakharova added.

Russian media have speculated that the Kremlin will search to change Griner for Viktor Bout, a convicted arms vendor generally known as the “Service provider of Demise,” who has been in U.S. custody since 2008. One other identify floated by Russian officers is that of Roman Seleznev, who’s serving a 27-year jail sentence within the U.S. on cyber fraud expenses.

On the Thursday listening to, the court docket heard witnesses for the protection who testified to Griner’s character. Maxim Ryabkov, the top of the Russian basketball membership UMMC Ekaterinburg, the place Griner performs in the course of the U.S. low season, stated he had by no means “seen or heard” Griner utilizing medicine within the seven years he is labored together with her.

The captain of the group, Evgenia Belyakova, testified within the listening to that Griner is a “accountable individual,” and stated she believes it might have been inconceivable for Griner to make use of medicine and carry out on the group given their demanding recreation schedule.

The choose scheduled the subsequent listening to for Friday morning, and Griner is anticipated to testify.

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