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WNBA star Brittney Griner returns to Russian courtroom Tuesday for cannabis charge irrespective of US supply to make prisoner swap



KHIMKI, Russia — American basketball star Brittney Griner was back again in courtroom on Tuesday for her demo for cannabis possession amid U.S. diplomatic initiatives to protected her launch.

In the course of the hearing, prosecutors called a state narcotics qualified who analyzed cannabis observed in Griner’s baggage. Her protection fielded a professional who challenged the examination, charging that it was flawed and failed to conform to official principles.

SEE Associated Story: Brittney Griner Russia demo resumes amid intensified diplomacy

If convicted, the Women’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) star and two-time Olympic gold medalist could face 10 years in jail. As her demo has progressed, the Biden administration has confronted developing community strain to get her produced.

In an amazing transfer, U.S. Secretary of Point out Antony Blinken past 7 days spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, urging him to acknowledge a offer beneath which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would go no cost.

The Lavrov-Blinken contact marked the highest-amount regarded speak to concerning Washington and Moscow considering that Russia sent troops into Ukraine extra than 5 months ago, the direct outreach at odds with U.S. endeavours to isolate the Kremlin.

Individuals acquainted with the proposal say it envisions trading Griner and Whelan for the notorious arms trader Viktor Bout. It underlines the community strain that the White Property has faced to get Griner unveiled.

SEE Relevant: US provides Russia offer aimed at bringing house WNBA star Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan

White Dwelling Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday that Russia has designed a “bad faith” response to the U.S. government’s offer you, a counteroffer that American officers never regard as serious. She declined to elaborate.

Griner has acknowledged there have been vape canisters made up of cannabis oil in her luggage when she was arrested at a Moscow airport in February. But she insisted that she experienced no criminal intent and that the canisters ended up in her baggage for the reason that she was packing hastily. Griner played for a Russian women’s basketball team in the WNBA off-season.

To bolster her scenario, her defense lawyers have presented testimony from physicians that she was prescribed cannabis as a treatment for ache. Professional medical cannabis cure is not authorized in Russia.

While judges have leeway to look at mitigating components less than Russian regulation, acquittals are uncommon and account for fewer than 1% of instances in Russian felony prosecutions.

A conviction, nevertheless, could potentially pave the way for Griner’s trade as Russian officers claimed it could only materialize right after the judicial system is done.

SEE Linked Story: WNBA All-Star and Houston indigenous Brittney Griner lands Time Journal protect

Tom Firestone, a Washington lawyer who formerly served as legal adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, reported Griner could be handed a difficult sentence as a way for Russians “to increase their leverage in negotiations.” He informed The Associated Push that Russia “may want to enable this perform out a minimal bit for a longer time and check out to extract a lot more concessions.”

Russian officials have scoffed at U.S. statements about the circumstance, saying they exhibit a disrespect for Russian regulation. They remained poker-faced, urging Washington to explore the problem by means of “tranquil diplomacy without releases of speculative data.”

Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this tale.

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