Before being jailed in Russia for cannabis possession, Brittney Griner received approval from US health professionals to use the substance medicinally, a court has heard. After entering a guilty plea to the allegations of narcotics possession, the US basketball star returned to court in Moscow on Friday.
Griner was shown grinning while holding up a photo of her teammates and donning a Nirvana t-shirt.
On the day of the court hearing, she was afterward observed being carried out of her cell by Russian security.
The visiting doctor recommended using medical marijuana, Brittney. Russian official news outlet RIA Novosti cited attorney Maria Blagovolina as saying, “The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health.”
According to the RIA-Novosti story, the defense also provided results of tests she submitted as part of an anti-doping investigation. No illegal chemicals were found in her system, according to the tests.
The Khimki district court, located just outside of Moscow, set a hearing date for July 26 for Griner’s case.
In February, Griner was detained at Sheremetyevo Airport in the Russian capital after customs agents allegedly discovered vape canisters carrying cannabis oil in her luggage.
She admitted having the canisters in court but said she did not intend to commit a crime and that she had packed her suitcase hastily, which is why they were there. She might spend up to 10 years behind bars.
Admitting guilt does not immediately conclude a trial under Russia’s legal system.
Griner is a star for the Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. She is one of the most well-known female athletes in the US.
It has been said by US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken that they are doing all in their power to secure her release as well as the release of other Americans who the US believes Russia has wrongfully jailed, including former Marine Paul Whelan.
The intense hostility between Washington and Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine may limit Washington’s ability to influence events.
According to Russian media, Griner might be exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, also known as “the Merchant of Death,” who is currently serving a 25-year prison term in the US after being found guilty of conspiring to assassinate US citizens and lending support to a terrorist group.
Russia has pushed for Bout’s release for years, but due to the vast disparity in the seriousness of their respective cases, Washington may find such an exchange intolerable.
Others have suggested that Griner and Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for an espionage conviction that the US has called a set-up, could be switched.
Griner’s situation is now under the control of the government’s special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, who is essentially the government’s top hostage negotiator after the State Department declared her to have been illegally arrested. Russia has taken issue with the categorization.
When asked whether Griner could be exchanged for a Russian detained in the US, deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov responded that ‘there are no official or procedural reasons to talk about any further measures’ until her trial is over.
It is “impossible to engage in an extensive discussion of any prospective conversations,” Mr. Ryabkov cautioned, citing US criticism such as the assertion that Griner was unjustly jailed and disparaging remarks about the Russian justice system.
The fact that Griner’s detention has been authorized beyond December 20 suggests that the trial may drag on for several weeks. However, Griner’s attorneys stated that they anticipate a resolution at the start of August.