WNBA star Brittney Griner has seen her drug smuggling trial come to a close, according to her lawyer. On August 4, it was revealed that the Russian court found her guilty and sentenced her to 9 years in prison.
In February of this year, the Phoenix Mercury player was stopped in a Russian airport when cannabis oil was found in her luggage. Since this incident, the basketball legend has been detained overseas in Russia and patiently awaiting trial. Considering possession of marijuana is punishable by up to ten years in prison, the world has been anxiously awaiting her trial, which began last month.
Griner pleaded guilty to drug smuggling in Khimki District Court near Moscow, but her attorneys argued that had a doctor-approved note for usage and did not intend to bring the substance into the country. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Biden administration is working diligently to create a plan in which the 31-year-old athlete can be brought home. According to ESPN, she is supposed to be sentenced on Friday and can hopefully move forward with a plan to be brought back to the United States.
“She still knows that the end [of her trial] is near and of course, she heard the news, so she is hoping that sometime she could be coming home,” Maria Blagovolina, an attorney representing Griner, shared in a statement, according to media outlet PEOPLE.
Brittney Griner’s defense team argues Russia failed to comply with codes of conduct
Another argument being used in Griner’s defense is the fact that Russian arresting officers did not comply with the country’s examination law when the cannabis oil was found in her luggage.
“The examination does not comply with the law in terms of the completeness of the study and does not comply with the norms of the Code of Criminal Procedure,” said forensic chemist Dmitry Gladyshev, who testified during the basketball player’s hearing.
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Additionally, Griner relayed that Russian officials did not properly explain the events that were transpiring during her arrest, which also violates the country’s law. She described that officials were purposefully poorly translating while at the airport, which led to her arrest.
She shared during her hearing, “I remember one time there was a stack of papers that [the translator] needed to translate for me. He took a brief look and then said the exact words were, ‘Basically you are guilty.'”
Although there is no clear answer as to what will happen to Griner when Russian courts reach a verdict, it is thought that the Biden administration may consider a plea deal to trade the WNBA star for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bou in a prisoner swap.
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