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Sport: Brittney Griner back in Russian court on cannabis charge

Brittney Griner Appears in Court Tuesday, Expert Testifies Medicinal Uses of Cannabis

  Brittney Griner Appears in Court Tuesday, Expert Testifies Medicinal Uses of Cannabis The WNBA star is expected to testify WednesdayBrittney Griner appeared in court Tuesday as her legal team shared supporting evidence about the medicinal use of cannabis.

KHIMKI, Russia (AP) — Brittney Griner was back in court on Tuesday for her trial for cannabis possession amid U.S. diplomatic efforts to secure her release.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner stands behind bars in a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner stands behind bars in a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP)

If convicted, the WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist could face 10 years in prison. As her trial has progressed, the Biden administration has faced growing public pressure to get her released.

Brittney Griner Wishes Wife Cherelle 'Good Luck on the Bar Exam' from Russian Court

  Brittney Griner Wishes Wife Cherelle 'Good Luck on the Bar Exam' from Russian Court Griner's wife, Cherelle, recently graduated from North Carolina Central University School of Law in May. Cherelle started the intensive, two-day exam to become a practicing lawyer Tuesday. Griner told ABC News that she is "waiting patiently" while in custody but has "no complaints." During the hearing, she held up a sign that included a photograph of her and Cherelle. The Phoenix Mercury center was arrested at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport in February after officials allegedly found vape cartridges containing hash oil, an illegal substance in Russia, in her luggage.

In an extraordinary move, Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, urging him to accept a deal under which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would go free.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted in a court prior to a hearing, in Khimki, just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted in a court prior to a hearing, in Khimki, just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The Lavrov-Blinken call marked the highest-level known contact between Washington and Moscow since Russia sent troops into Ukraine more than five months ago, the direct outreach at odds with U.S. efforts to isolate the Kremlin.

WNBA's Griner says poor translation clouded arrest in Russia

  WNBA's Griner says poor translation clouded arrest in Russia KHIMKI, Russia (AP) — American basketball star Brittney Griner testified Wednesday at her drug trial in Russia that a language interpreter translated only a fraction of what was said during her questioning and officials instructed her to sign documents without providing an explanation. Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February. She acknowledged in court earlier this month that she had vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage when she arrived in Russia but contends she had no criminal intent and packed the cartridges inadvertently.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted in a court room prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted in a court room prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

People familiar with the proposal say it envisions trading Griner and Whelan for the notorious arms trader Viktor Bout. It underlines the public pressure that the White House has faced to get Griner released.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday that Russia has made a “bad faith” response to the U.S. government’s offer, a counteroffer that American officials don’t regard as serious. She declined to elaborate.

Kremlin poker-faced on US swap offer to free Griner, Whelan

  Kremlin poker-faced on US swap offer to free Griner, Whelan MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin warned Thursday that a possible prisoner swap with the United States involving American basketball star Brittney Griner needs to be negotiated quietly without fanfare. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that Washington had offered Russia a deal that would bring home Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan. A person familiar with the matter said the U.S. government proposed trading convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Whelan and Griner.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner speaks to her lawyers in a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner speaks to her lawyers in a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP)

Griner has acknowledged there were vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage when she was arrested at a Moscow airport in February. But she insisted that she had no criminal intent and that the canisters ended up in her luggage because she was packing hastily. Griner played for a Russian women’s basketball team in the WNBA off-season.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner smiles behind bars in a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner smiles behind bars in a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP)

To bolster her case, her defense lawyers presented testimony from doctors that she was prescribed cannabis as a treatment for pain. Medical marijuana treatment is not legal in Russia.

Becky Hammon's criticism of Vladimir Putin hits hard given her history with Russia | Opinion

  Becky Hammon's criticism of Vladimir Putin hits hard given her history with Russia | Opinion After being overlooked by USA Basketball, Becky Hammon accepted an invitation to play for Russia at two Olympics, leading them to bronze in Beijing.So, too, Becky Hammon’s fury.

While judges have leeway to consider mitigating factors under Russian law, acquittals are rare and account for less than 1% of cases in Russian criminal prosecutions.

A conviction, however, could potentially pave the way for Griner's exchange as Russian officials said it could only happen after the judicial process is completed.

Tom Firestone, a Washington attorney who formerly served as legal adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, said Griner could be handed a tough sentence as a way for Russians "to maximize their leverage in negotiations.” He told The Associated Press that Russia “may want to let this play out a little bit longer and try to extract more concessions.”

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted in a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted in a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP)

Russian officials have scoffed at U.S. statements about the case, saying they show a disrespect for Russian law. They remained poker-faced, urging Washington to discuss the issue through “quiet diplomacy without releases of speculative information.”

Mercury ‘Faithful’ U.S. Gov Will Help End Griner’s Detention

  Mercury ‘Faithful’ U.S. Gov Will Help End Griner’s Detention Phoenix continues to show their support for Griner. The Phoenix Mercury released a statement Thursday standing behind Brittney Griner amid the WNBA star’s nine-year sentence for smuggling drugs with criminal intent by a Russian court on Thursday. Griner was also fined 1 million rubles, or the equivalent of $16,500.“While we knew it was never the legal process that was going to bring our friend home, today’s verdict is a sobering milestone in the 168-day nightmare being endured by our sister, BG,” the team said in a statement.“We remain heartbroken for her, as we have every day for nearly six months.

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Eric Tucker in Washington DC contributed to this story.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner stands behind bars in  a courtroom prior to a hearing in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner stands behind bars in a courtroom prior to a hearing in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP) WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner holds up images as she stands behind bars in a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner holds up images as she stands behind bars in a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP)

In rare contact, US offers Russia deal for Griner, Whelan .
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. has offered a deal to Russia aimed at bringing home WNBA star Brittney Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday. In a sharp reversal of previous policy, Blinken also said he expects to speak with his Kremlin counterpart for the first time since before Russia invaded Ukraine to discuss the deal and other matters. Blinken's comments marked the first time the U.S. government has publicly revealed any concrete action it has taken to secure the release of Griner, who was arrested on drug-related charges at a Moscow airport in February and testified Wednesday at her trial.

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