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Closing arguments begin in WNBA star Brittney Griner’s drug trial in Russia

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Closing arguments get started in WNBA star Brittney Griner’s drug demo in Russia

Barnini Chakraborty

August 04, 06:00 AM August 04, 06:01 AM

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Closing arguments started early Thursday early morning in the substantial-profile trial of Brittney Griner, a WNBA star who has been detained in Russia on drug fees considering the fact that February.

Griner’s situation has taken on intercontinental value, and her destiny is tied to icy U.S.-Russian diplomatic relations as properly as the launch of other Americans detained in the place. That incorporates a man who was convicted of espionage, a schoolteacher arrested next a domestic dispute involving her Russian associate, and yet another instructor who was sentenced in June to 14 several years for bringing in marijuana to handle a documented healthcare ailment.

BRITTNEY GRINER Retains UP Shots OF Beloved Types AS Trial IN RUSSIA Starts off TO WRAP UP

Griner could be sentenced to up to a ten years behind bars for bringing in various vape canisters made up of cannabis oil in her baggage. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and Phoenix Mercury star was detained on Feb. 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Griner advised authorities she experienced a doctor’s prescription for health-related hashish, but for the reason that Russia does not permit cannabis of any type, she was arrested and charged. Subsequent her detention, Griner was analyzed for medicine and was clear, her legal professionals claimed.

Grainer pleaded guilty and acknowledged possessing the canisters but taken care of she had no prison intent and stated she packed them in a hurry for her journey to Russia to play for the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team during the WNBA’s offseason. In spite of her responsible plea, made in element to safe a lighter sentence, Russia’s judicial technique termed for the trial to continue.

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The prosecution’s star witness was a state narcotics specialist who analyzed the hashish found inside Griner’s baggage. However, the defense staff challenged the expert’s conclusions, arguing it was flawed and did not conform to official guidelines.

At demo, Griner stayed inside of a metallic defendant’s cage, which is customary in Russian courtrooms, and at unique times held up images, including a single of fellow WNBA players putting on her identify and No. 42 on their uniforms in tribute for the duration of the All-Star Video game in Chicago.

Trading FOR PRISONERS HELD Overseas LIKE BRITTNEY GRINER IS POLITICALLY EXPEDIENT, BUT Unwell-Recommended

On Wednesday, a best mentor for U.S. women’s qualified basketball who as soon as represented Russia at the Olympics pleaded with Russian President Vladimir Putin to “do the suitable issue” and allow Griner go, Reuters described.

Las Vegas Aces health coach Becky Hammon told the media outlet that it was difficult to see a member of the women’s basketball group locked away like a widespread felony for the improved section of a 12 months and stated Griner’s detainment was wrong.

The circumstance has set the spotlight on U.S.-Russia relations, which have strike all-time post-Cold War lows pursuing Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this calendar year. The Point out Division claimed Grainer has been wrongfully detained, and her supporters argued she is remaining applied as a political pawn.

U.S. officials have been beneath stress from Griner’s family members, lawmakers, and professional athletes to deliver her residence, maybe as portion of a controversial prisoner swap.

Final week, the United States proposed an exchange that termed for the release of Griner and Paul Whelan, an American convicted of espionage. White Household press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Moscow manufactured a “undesirable religion” counteroffer that The us would not consider.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused the U.S. of “megaphone diplomacy” and stated the go would harm negotiations from shifting ahead.

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Also final 7 days, previous President Donald Trump inserted himself into the controversy, contacting Griner “spoiled” and saying he did not approve of the Biden administration’s proposed plan to exchange Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, a weapons trafficker imprisoned in the U.S. Trump, who manufactured the feedback throughout an physical appearance on The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show podcast, reported Griner should really just take private duty for her steps and claimed she traveled to Russia “loaded up with medicine.”

“We are supposed to get her out for an absolute killer and a single of the largest arms deals in the globe,” Trump mentioned. “Killed numerous Us citizens, killed many people today. And he is heading to get a totally free card, and we are heading to get her. He is unquestionably a single of the worst in the world, and he’s going to be given his independence due to the fact a potentially spoiled individual goes into Russia loaded up with medications. She understood you really don’t go in there loaded up with medication, and she admitted it. I suppose she admitted it with out too considerably force for the reason that it is what it is, and it definitely isn’t going to seem like a really superior trade, does it?”

Bout, dubbed the “Service provider of Demise” due to the fact of his rapid rise to the top of worldwide arms trafficking, is a previous Soviet military services officer who worked for the KGB in Angola. Previous Lawyer Common Eric Holder called Bout “a person of the world’s most prolific arms dealers.” Bout has armed human legal rights abusers in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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