KHIMKI, Russia (AP) — American basketball famous person Brittney Griner used to be again in court docket on Tuesday for her trial for hashish ownership amid U.S. diplomatic efforts to safe her unlock.
All through the listening to, prosecutors known as a state narcotics skilled who analyzed hashish present in Griner’s baggage. Her protection fielded a expert who challenged the research, charging that it used to be incorrect and did not agree to reputable laws.
If convicted, the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) famous person and two-time Olympic gold medalist may face 10 years in jail. As her trial has improved, the Biden management has confronted rising public force to get her launched.
In an peculiar transfer, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken final week spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, urging him to simply accept a deal below which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would move loose.
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The Lavrov-Blinken name marked the highest-level recognized touch between Washington and Moscow since Russia despatched troops into Ukraine greater than 5 months in the past, the direct outreach at odds with U.S. efforts to isolate the Kremlin.
Folks conversant in the proposal say it envisions buying and selling Griner and Whelan for the infamous fingers dealer Viktor Bout. It underlines the general public force that the White Space has confronted to get Griner launched.
White Space Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre instructed journalists Monday that Russia has made a “dangerous religion” reaction to the U.S. executive’s be offering, a counteroffer that American officers don’t regard as severe. She declined to elaborate.
Griner has said there have been vape canisters containing hashish oil in her baggage when she used to be arrested at a Moscow airport in February. However she insisted that she had no legal intent and that the canisters ended up in her baggage as a result of she used to be packing all of a sudden. Griner performed for a Russian girls’s basketball workforce within the WNBA low season.
To strengthen her case, her protection legal professionals have offered testimony from docs that she used to be prescribed hashish as a remedy for ache. Clinical marijuana remedy isn’t criminal in Russia.
Whilst judges have leeway to imagine mitigating elements below Russian legislation, acquittals are uncommon and account for not up to 1% of instances in Russian legal prosecutions.
A conviction, alternatively, may probably pave the way in which for Griner’s alternate as Russian officers stated it would handiest occur after the judicial procedure is done.
Tom Firestone, a Washington lawyer who previously served as criminal adviser on the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, stated Griner might be passed a difficult sentence as some way for Russians “to maximise their leverage in negotiations.” He instructed The Related Press that Russia “might wish to let this play out a bit bit longer and check out to extract extra concessions.”
Russian officers have scoffed at U.S. statements concerning the case, pronouncing they display a disrespect for Russian legislation. They remained poker-faced, urging Washington to speak about the problem thru “quiet international relations with out releases of speculative data.”
Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this tale.
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