WNBA star Brittney Griner set to give testimony in Russia trial

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RIGA, Latvia — WNBA star Brittney Griner is experiencing the most crucial working day in her Moscow demo on drug rates, due to give testimony and experience questioning from the judge and prosecutor on why she brought hashish oil to Russia.

Griner previously pleaded guilty, telling the court docket she experienced no intention of breaking Russian law and was unaware that two vape canisters that contains hashish oil were being in her baggage because she packed in a hurry.

In Russia, carrying even modest quantities of the compound is illegal. The prosecution argues that the .702 grams of cannabis observed in the vape cartridges was a “significant” total. She faces up to 10 years’ jail if convicted.

Her legal professionals have offered evidence that Griner employed hashish oil to decrease serious soreness thanks to a sports damage, on the suggestion of an Arizona health care provider, and referred to as a witness who claimed this was typical exercise in the United States and some other nations.

They say the situation for leniency is that she had no intent to convey the compound in, not that she had a proper to do so.

Griner’s supporters in the United States say she is a Russian “hostage” but senior Russian International Ministry officers have warned that political and general public force for her release in the United States would not assist her lead to. They have hinted Russia may think about a prisoner swap, but only right after her trial is comprehensive.

Even so, Trevor Reed, a former marine who was convicted and jailed in Russia in 2019 for assaulting two Russian police officers and endangering their life, claimed Monday all through an NBC job interview that the Biden administration was not executing adequate to absolutely free Griner and other people. He denies the rates in opposition to him, and was introduced dwelling in an April prisoner swap.

The White Residence states that Griner is getting held in “intolerable circumstances” and that it is accomplishing all the things possible to free her and other wrongfully detained prisoners, which include Paul Whelan, a safety specialist and ex-marine arrested in 2018, convicted of spying in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years’ jail. He denies the rates, expressing he was set up.

The United States’ efforts to no cost Griner and Whelan are remaining taken care of by the unique presidential envoy for hostage affairs. Biden very last 7 days signed an government purchase declaring a national emergency to deal with the danger of foreign states and other actors wrongfully detaining American citizens or taking them hostage.

United States officers have declined to comment on any achievable prisoner trade. But Whelan’s scenario underscores the unpredictability of this sort of issues. His conviction sparked powerful speculation in Russian media in 2020 of a possible prisoner swap, but absolutely nothing came of it.

His spouse and children was dismayed when Reed was freed prior to Whelan, supplied that Whelan experienced been jail in Russia for more time. Reed was exchanged for convicted Russian drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko who was serving a 20-calendar year-sentence soon after his 2011 conviction.

Media speculation has developed about a doable prisoner exchange involving Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, 55, nicknamed the “Service provider of Loss of life,” who is serving a 25-yr-sentence in Illinois for conspiring to kill U.S. nationals and offering weapons to terrorists. The Kremlin has been pushing for his release due to the fact his arrest in Thailand in 2008, declaring he was wrongfully convicted in a New York court docket in 2011.

Significantly of the speculation is focused on comments by Bout’s attorney in the United States, Steve Zissou, who suggests what Moscow needs is “obvious.” He argues that Moscow has manufactured it clear that no Us residents will be exchanged, except if Washington arms above Bout.

But particulars of any attainable swap negotiation stay murky, including regardless of whether Russia would agree to swap Bout for two Individuals.

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