RIGA, Latvia – Brittney Griner, a WNBA player from the United States, has admitted to possessing cannabis oil on the second day of her anticipated Russian trial. Now she faces a possible ten-year prison sentence.
The question today is whether Washington and Moscow can reach an agreement on her release and the release of other American prisoners in Ukraine, given the high diplomatic tension due to the terrible conflict of Moscow.
Griner said Thursday: “Your honor, I would like to plead guilty.” There was no plan though. I wanted to avoid breaking the law. She asked to present her evidence later to prepare, and then the court adjourned.
A senior Russian official previously stated that a prisoner exchange could not be undertaken until the matter was resolved.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov claims that the US attempt to exchange prisoners will not improve Griner’s chances of freedom. Ryabkov spoke to the media outside the courthouse in the Moscow suburb of Khimki.
July 7 Griner admitted possession of hemp oil. Now she faces up to ten years in prison. The State Department called Griner “mystified.”
According to Ryabkov, “the efforts of the American side to create noise and disturbance in the public environment are understandable, but they do not help to practically solve the problems.”
Griner appeared in court wearing a red shirt and red pants, according to the state news agency RIA Novosti. When she arrived, she was handcuffed.
According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the release of Griner and the release of other Americans imprisoned in Russia, such as ex-Marine Paul Whelan, remains a top US goal.
He tweeted: “We will not give up until all other illegally detained Americans are reunited with their loved ones.” They included Brittney and Paul Whelan.
Elizabeth Rood, deputy head of the American embassy in Moscow, was tried. She spoke briefly with Griner while in prison and gave her a letter from President Biden.
She claimed that she eats well. Rood wrote in an email to The Washington Post: “She can read books and is doing well under the circumstances.” Most importantly, I must read President Biden’s letter to Ms. Griner and share it with him.
Everything you need to know about Brittney Griner’s situation in Russia According to Rood, the US government is committed to bringing Ms. Griner and all other illegally imprisoned US citizens are safe at home.
Russian customs officials told a hearing last week that two vape cartridges were found in Griner’s luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport in February, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Russian media claim that Griner said in court on Thursday that he packed too fast and the vape cartridges accidentally fell into his luggage. Griner’s lawyers say that airport employees who saw his luggage searched provided evidence to the prosecution.
Griner, like many other female basketball players, played basketball in Russia during the summer to earn extra money and improve her skills.
According to Ryabkov, “we have a long-established mechanism for discussing these issues”, Russia would want to negotiate after the Griner case is resolved.
Griner was taken into custody at a Moscow airport in February and was seen awaiting a hearing on July 7.
“It is clear that the necessary legal procedures are not being followed,” reports Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters. Ryabkov noted: “So far there is no nominal, formal or procedural basis for the steps.”
The trial continues on July 1, but Griner’s sentence has not yet been determined. Maria Blagovolina, one of his lawyers, told The Post, “We expect the trial to end quite quickly: three to five hearings at most.
She continued: “We hope that the guilty plea will force the court to impose a lighter sentence. and we ask for it.”
A prominent human rights lawyer from Russia, who was forced to leave the country in September, claimed that Russian courts were often more forgiving when defendants pleaded guilty.
However, he noted that the situation is highly political. . and demanded a more severe punishment.. Pavlov waited: “I think they will give him as long a sentence as possible, so that another party will retaliate.” Because giving him a short or moderate term will make it difficult to send the opposition to negotiate.
Griner was appointed at a time when relations between Washington and Moscow were already extremely strained due to Russia’s conflict in Ukraine. As diplomatic efforts in the conflict failed, the American embassy in Moscow issued a statement in January urging Americans not to travel to Russia.
The White House said in a statement Wednesday that Griner is being held in intolerable conditions. Biden and Vice President Harris informed you by confirming by phone Griner. ner’s wife, Cherelle, that they is working hard to free Griner and Whelan.
As of December 2018, Security Adviser Whelan is in custody. He was traveling to Moscow for a friend’s wedding when he was arrested in a hotel room and convicted of espionage in a secret trial and sentenced to 16 years in prison. .
Whelan’s sister, Elizabeth Whelan, said the family was “shocked” that Biden called Griner’s wife but did not call them.
Moscow traded Marine Corps veteran Trevor Reed for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko in an April prisoner exchange with the United States.
Yaroshenko is currently serving a 20-year sentence in Connecticut for drug trafficking. After pleading guilty to life-threatening assault on police officers, Reed was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia.
Brittney Griner’s Detention in Russia:
“I’m afraid I may stay here forever,” Griner asked Vice President Biden to remember her and other detainees in a recent letter.
According to his American supporters, he is a political pawn and prisoner.
After the Phoenix Mercury player pleaded guilty, the WNBA Players Association released a message of solidarity: “The WNBPA stands behind Brittney Griner,” was the statement.
The 99 percent punishment in Russia has its own procedure, in terms of navigation or even understanding, it is not comparable to our own legal system. The US State Department has decided that Brittney Griner was wrongfully detained and will continue to negotiate her release despite the trial.
Griner received an endorsement from American women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who was at the White House Thursday afternoon to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom. On her Instagram page, Rapinoe wore a cream and white floral jacket with the letters “BG” sewn into the right lapel.
Washington may trade Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States for trying to sell surface-to-air missiles to a foreign terrorist organization with the intention of killing Americans. who was the inspiration for Nicolas Cage’s Lord of War, spent years trading arms with warlords in Africa and the Middle East before being arrested in Thailand in 2008 and extradited to the United States in 2010.
During the past decade, Russia has demanded the release of Bout, describing his arrest and conviction as “illegal and political”.
Griner’s defense attorney was coy when asked if a prisoner exchange was possible. Despite the fact that “we are lawyers, not diplomats,” Blagovolina noted that Biden’s letter was “a hint that he will receive government support and some actions will follow.”
The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, which advocates for the release of prisoners and hostages, reports that 6
Americans have been detained or illegally imprisoned abroad.
Unfortunately, in recent years, “hostage diplomacy” has become common, where governments kidnap citizens of opposing countries under false pretenses to gain influence.
In addition to the Russian cases, similar cases also occurred in China and Northern Finland. In Korea, Iran and elsewhere.
In early May, the State Department concluded that Griner was being held against his will. As a result, Griner’s case was assigned to Roger Carstens, the presidential envoy for hostage affairs.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that the accusations were not political. He also mentioned that in many other countries, including Russia, drug crimes were dealt with severely.