Brittney Griner’s Russian Trial Lawyer Argues She Was Not Transporting Drugs
The trial of WNBA superstar Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February, continued. The 31-year-old pleaded guilty to drug charges last week but said she had no criminal intent. If Griner is convicted of transporting drugs, she faces up to a decade in a Russian prison.
According to ESPN, on Friday (July 15) her lawyer Maria Blagovolina presented the court with a doctor's letter recommending she use cannabis to treat pain. Blagovolina said, "The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis. The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health."
To further prove she was not transporting drugs, the defense also submitted tests that she had undergone an anti-doping check and no prohibited substances were found in her system.
After the hearing, U.S. Embassy charge d'affaires, Elizabeth Rood, said outside of the courthouse, "In the hearings yesterday and today, what became very clear is the tremendous amount of respect and admiration both in the United States and here in Russia where Miss Griner has been playing basketball for seven years, not only for her professional achievements but for her character and integrity.”
In Russia, admitting guilt doesn't automatically end a trial.
The next hearing in Griner's case is scheduled for July 26. But it remains possible the trial could continue for months.
On Feb. 17, Griner, who had been in Russia playing for UMMC Yekaterinburg, was arrested by Russian Federal Customs Service at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow after agents said they found hashish oil vape cartridges in her luggage. She was charged with transporting a “significant amount,” or 0.702 grams, of cannabis oil, according to The Washington Post.
Griner’s arrest came amid tension escalating over Russia invading Ukraine. Many have said she’s being used as a political pawn and urged the White House to make a prisoner swap to secure her release.