Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since mid-February
American basketball star Brittney Griner claimed during her drug trial in Russia on Wednesday that she had not received a full translation of the circumstances surrounding her detention at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow and that she had signed documents without officials providing him with an explanation of what they were.
Griner, 31, who is one of the world’s best-known basketball players, was arrested on February 17 after she was found in possession of vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.
She admitted in court that the cartridges found in her luggage belonged to her but maintains that she accidentally included them in her personal effects before her trip to Russia, and said she had no criminal intent.
Griner, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft, represents Phoenix Mercury in the United States, but since 2015 he has played for Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg in the offseason.
She told the Khimki City Court, just outside Moscow, on Wednesday that she was recovering from a Covid-19 infection when she visited Russia earlier this year and was unsure still unclear how cannabis cartridges had been added to her belongings – adding that she had received a doctor’s recommendation to consume the substance in the United States.
Tuesday’s hearing saw a Russian expert tell the court that cannabis is prescribed in some countries such as the United States to treat certain conditions, although it remains illegal in Russia.
Speaking on Wednesday, Griner claimed she was given an inadequate translation of the circumstances of her arrest, and that she was not fully informed of her rights or given access to a lawyer.
The basketball player also claimed that she was required to sign documents without being told what they meant.
However, she “explained to the court that she knows and respects Russian laws and that she never intended to break them,” according to Maria Blagovolina, who represents Griner in court.
She added that “Yekaterinburg became her second home and she always enjoyed her time in Russia.”
Griner faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison if convicted. It is not known how long the trial will last, but his detention has been authorized until December 20.
Several top NBA stars have called for Griner’s release, with many – including the US State Department – saying she was wrongfully detained.
Others have argued that Griner was being held to be used as a pawn in a future prisoner swap with the United States – a hypothetical situation denied by Russian authorities.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, however, has vehemently denied claims of “wrongful detention” made by Griner supporters.
“If a US citizen was caught for smuggling drugs, and she doesn’t deny it, it should be commensurate with our local Russian laws, not those passed in San Francisco, New York and Washington.said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova last week.
“If drugs have been legalized in the United States, in a number of states, and have been for a long time, and now the whole country is going to become addicted, that does not mean that all other countries are following the same path.,” she says.
Griner’s trial is scheduled to resume on August 2.