Trial of Britney Griner: Russian prosecutors demand 9.5 years in prison

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WNBA star Britney Griner Russia’s drug trial entered its final debate on Thursday as she awaits her fate after pleading guilty to possession of cannabis after cannabis-derived oils were found in her bag at a Moscow airport in February .

The Russian prosecutor’s office asked the court sentenced Griner to 9.5 years in prison. The defense then proceeded to their arguments. Griner faces up to 10 years in prison.

Griner was arrested in February ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, although her arrest and detention were not made public until early March.

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WNBA star and two-time Olympian Brittney Griner (right) enters a cage in a courtroom ahead of a hearing in Khimki near Moscow, Russia Thursday, August.  4, 2022.

WNBA star and two-time Olympian Brittney Griner (right) enters a cage in a courtroom ahead of a hearing in Khimki near Moscow, Russia Thursday, August. 4, 2022.
(Evgenia Novozhenina/Poolside photo via AP)

The US State Department has since classified Griner as “wrongfully detained.” During the trial, Griner admitted that she had the cans with her, but was not going to break the law. Her lawyers argued that Griner did not have criminal intent, but instead the cannabis oil cartridges ended up in her luggage by accident due to hasty packaging.

Maria Blagovolina, one of her lawyers in Russia, claimed that Griner used marijuana for medical purposes. However, Russian officials have said that US cannabis laws have nothing to do with Russia.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said last week that Biden administration makes ‘substantial proposal’ for the return of basketball player and compatriot Paul Whelan.

Former US Marine Describes ‘Terrible’ Time In Russian Prison As Biden Administrator Negotiates Griner And Whelan’s Release

WNBA star and two-time Olympian Brittney Griner stands in a cage in a courtroom ahead of a hearing in Khimki near Moscow, Russia Thursday, August.  4, 2022.

WNBA star and two-time Olympian Brittney Griner stands in a cage in a courtroom ahead of a hearing in Khimki near Moscow, Russia Thursday, August. 4, 2022.
(Evgenia Novozhenina/Poolside photo via AP)

Blinken said during a press conference that the Biden administration made the offer weeks ago and hopes to speak to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the first time since Feb. fifteen.

Russian media have speculated that the deal may have been for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer known as the “dealer of death” who is serving a 25-year sentence in the US after being found guilty of conspiring to kill US citizens and aiding a terrorist organization. organization.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday that Russia had responded “in bad faith” to the US government’s proposal. She didn’t elaborate.

Russian officials have made it clear that a prisoner exchange is not possible until a guilty verdict is reached.

The closing arguments in the Britney Griner marijuana possession case are set for Thursday, nearly six months after the American basketball star was arrested at a Moscow airport in a case that has reached the highest levels of US-Russian diplomacy.

The closing arguments in the Britney Griner marijuana possession case are set for Thursday, nearly six months after the American basketball star was arrested at a Moscow airport in a case that has reached the highest levels of US-Russian diplomacy.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlyanichenko)

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Russia authorized Griner’s detention until the end of December.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.