MOSCOW — Closing arguments in Brittney Griner’s hashish possession case in Russia are set for Thursday, practically six months after the American basketball star was arrested at a Moscow airport in a case that has reached the best ranges of US-Russia diplomacy.
Griner faces as much as 10 years in jail if convicted. Though a conviction seems nearly sure, provided that Russian courts hardly ever acquit defendants and Griner has acknowledged that there have been vape canisters with hashish oil in her baggage, judges have appreciable latitude on sentencing.
Attorneys for the Phoenix Mercury heart and two-time Olympic gold medalist have pursued methods to bolster Griner’s competition that she had no legal intent and that the canisters ended up in her baggage on account of hasty packing. They’ve introduced character witnesses from the Russian staff that she performs for within the WNBA low season and written testimony from a health care provider who mentioned he prescribed her hashish for ache therapy.
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner holds photos standing in a cage previous to a listening to, in Khimki simply exterior Moscow, Russia, on July 27, 2022.AP Picture/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File
It’s not clear when the decision can be introduced. If she doesn’t go free, consideration will flip to the high-stakes chance of a prisoner swap.
Earlier than her trial started in July, the State Division designated her as “wrongfully detained,” transferring her case underneath the supervision of its particular presidential envoy for hostage affairs, successfully the federal government’s chief hostage negotiator.
Then final week, in a rare transfer, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, urging him to just accept a deal underneath which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would go free.
The American basketball star’s case has reached the best ranges of U.S.-Russia diplomacy. AP Picture/Alexander Zemlianichenko
The Lavrov-Blinken name marked the highest-level recognized contact between Washington and Moscow since Russia despatched troops into Ukraine greater than 5 months in the past. The direct outreach over Griner is at odds with US efforts to isolate the Kremlin.
Individuals acquainted with the proposal say it envisions buying and selling Griner and Whelan for the infamous arms dealer Viktor Bout. It underlines the general public strain that the White Home has confronted to get Griner launched.
White Home Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre informed reporters Monday that Russia has made a “dangerous religion” response to the US authorities’s supply, a counteroffer that American officers don’t regard as critical. She declined to elaborate.
Russian officers have scoffed at US statements in regards to the case, saying they present a disrespect for Russian legislation. They remained poker-faced, urging Washington to debate the problem by way of “quiet diplomacy with out releases of speculative info.”