Britney Greiner: WNBA star apologizes to Russian court before ruling in drug smuggling trial

“I never intended to harm anyone, I never intended to endanger the Russian population, and I never intended to break any laws here,” Greiner said at Khimki City Court. “I made an honest mistake and I hope in your judgment this doesn’t end my life here. I know everyone keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope it’s far from this courtroom.”

“I want to say again that I had no intention of breaking any Russian laws. I had no intention. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime,” she added.

A verdict is expected as soon as possible at 10:45 a.m. ET.

Greiner’s comments come about six months after the 31-year-old was arrested at a Moscow airport and charged by Russian prosecutors with attempted smuggling. less than 1 gram of hemp oil in her bags. She faces up to 10 years in prison.
Two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist Admission of guilt She was charged with drug charges last month in what her lawyers say is an attempt to take responsibility and get leniency if she is eventually convicted and sentenced.
The US State Department asserts that Greiner is being unjustly being held amid fears she is being used as a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine. Her supporters demanded her release and asked the United States to take further steps to try to free her from the country, perhaps Part of the proposed prisoner exchange.

In closing arguments Thursday ahead of Griner’s apology, the attorney general asked for Griner to be in prison for 9.5 years, according to defense attorney Maria Blagovolina, a partner at Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin and Partners.

In response, Blagovolina argued that Greiner had never used marijuana in Russia and that she had never intended to do so. The lawyer added that she did not need to bring vape cartridges to Russia.

A defense expert said examining the substance in Brittney Griner's VAP cartridges violated Russian law

Blagovolina argued that all this confirms the complete absence of intent in her actions. She added that even if Greiner used medical marijuana, it was only at home in Arizona, which is rare and only with a doctor’s prescription. Blagovolina said she did not know how strict the laws were in Russia.

Grenier arrived at court handcuffed on Thursday and was escorted by Russian officers to the defendant’s cage. Once she wasn’t tied down, she spoke with her legal team and then uploaded a photo of the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team, the Russian team she played with during the WNBA offseason.

Greiner’s other attorney, Alexander Boikov, argued that Greiner had no opportunity to properly examine court documents. He said that the Russian constitution guarantees everyone the right to use their mother tongue and to freely choose the language of communication.

Boikov cited an example when a language translator provided to Griner flipped a lengthy document submitted by a translation investigator and then told Griner, “Basically, that means you’re guilty.”

Elizabeth Rudd, charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Russia, arrived in court on Thursday ahead of the hearing. She appeared in court throughout the trial and said Tuesday that the United States will “continue to support Ms. Greiner in every step of this process and for as long as it is required to bring her back to the United States safely.”

How did the trial go?

Greiner’s lawyers have put forward some arguments undermining the prosecution’s case and claiming that the basketball player’s detention was not handled properly after she was stopped by staff at Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17.

Boikov said last week that her arrest, search and arrest was “inappropriate,” noting that more details would be revealed during closing arguments.

After being stopped at the airport, Greiner to sign documents She testified that she did not fully understand it. She said that at first she was using Google Translate on her phone but was later moved to another room where her phone was moved and she was forced to sign more documents.

Greiner testified that there was no lawyer, and her rights were not explained to her. These rights include access to a lawyer once she is in custody and the right to know what is suspected. Under Russian law, she must have been informed of her rights within three hours of her arrest.

On Tuesday, at the seventh hearing of her case, a defense expert testified that an examination of the substance in Griner’s electronic cartridges did not comply with Russian law. Blagovolina also told CNN that her team’s experts have identified “some flaws” in the machines used to measure the substance.

At the trial, Greiner testified that she had a prescription for medical cannabis and had no intention of bringing the drug to Russia. After she was detained in February, she was checked for drugs and was clean, her lawyers had previously said.

Exclusive to CNN: Biden administration offered convicted Russian arms dealer in exchange for Griner, Whelan

“She made it clear to the court that she knew and respected Russian laws and had no intention of violating them,” Blagovolina said in her testimony.

“We still insist that she, recklessly and quickly, packed her suitcase and did not pay attention to the fact that items permitted for use in the United States ended up in this suitcase and made it to the Russian Federation,” Boykov, of the Moscow Law Center, said.

The trial began against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s conflict with the United States and Europe.

Last week, CNN reported that the administration of President Joe Biden He proposed a prisoner exchange with Russiaand offered to release a convicted Russian arms smuggler, Victor Bout, in exchange for Greiner and another American detainee, Paul Whelan. Russian officials In the face of the American offerSeveral sources familiar with the discussions said, but US officials did not accept the request as a legitimate counteroffer.

The Kremlin also warned on Tuesday that US “megaphone diplomacy” would not help in prisoner exchange negotiations with Grenier. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow believed these talks should be “secret”.

The Griner family, supporters, and fellow WNBA members continued to express messages of solidarity and hope as they await the conclusion of the trial. Her WNBA team, Phoenix Mercury, is expected to play the Connecticut Sun game Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET.

Prior to last week’s trial proceedings, the WNBA Players Association chirp“Dear BG … It’s early in Moscow. Our day is ending and your day is just beginning. Not a day passes, not an hour does not occupy our mind and our hearts.”

Elizabeth Wolff, Travis Caldwell, Dakin Andoni, Kylie Atwood, Evan Perez, Jennifer Hansler, Natasha Bertrand, Frederic Blitgen, Chris Liakos, and Masha Angelova of CNN contributed to this report.

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