The American WNBA player Brittney Griner acknowledged having cannabis oil on the second day of her trial in Russia. She might now spend up to 10 years in prison.
Many people who know Griner’s public character, her outspoken advocacy for LGBT rights, and her history of mental health difficulties were surprised by her disclosure.
The trial will continue to be closely watched as it moves forward, even if it is unclear how this will impact her case.
The question is whether Washington and Moscow will be able to strike a deal on releasing American inmates, including Griner, given the diplomatic tension.
Griner recently pleaded guilty and mentioned she didn’t want to break the law. She then asked to give her testimony later, and the court adjourned. Before the issue was settled, a top Russian official had stated that no steps could be taken toward a prisoner swap.
Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, claimed that Griner’s chances of being released were not increased by the American initiative to exchange prisoners.
On July 7, Griner acknowledged owning cannabis oil, and she now faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Griner has been deemed to have been “wrongfully held” by the State Department. Before the court’s meeting in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, Ryabkov spoke with the media.
The American side’s attempts to raise public sentiment, in Ryabkov’s opinion, “is understandable but do little to resolve the problems.”
When she arrived at the court, Griner was handcuffed and wearing a red shirt and red pants. It is clear that the US cares deeply about the security and welfare of its citizens, and it will not relent until they are all free. According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the United States will continue to prioritize the release of Americans detained in Russia, notably former Marine Paul Whelan.
The American embassy in Moscow’s deputy head of mission, Elizabeth Rood, was present in court. She received a letter from President Biden, and she had a brief conversation with Griner about how she was doing while inside.
The US government is seeking to return Brittney Griner to the US. According to Russian customs officials, Griner was reportedly discovered in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport with two vape cartridges in her luggage. The American government is committed to safely reuniting Griner and all other people who have been wrongfully detained with their families.
Russian media reports that Griner told the court that the vape cartridges had accidentally fallen into her suitcase when she was racing to pack. According to her counsel, airport personnel who witnessed the examination of Griner’s luggage testified to the prosecution.
Many female professional basketball players play in Russia over the summer to increase their money and maintain their talents. One of these players was Griner.
In January, the American embassy in Moscow issued a notification advising citizens against visiting Russia after diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute between Washington and Moscow failed. Due to Russia’s participation in Ukraine, this conflict has intensified further. During this challenging period, Griner was jailed.
According to the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, 64 Americans are now being held captive or detained in inhumane conditions abroad. This is a matter of concern because “hostage diplomacy,” or the practice of governments abducting citizens of rival nations under fictitious pretenses to acquire leverage, has been more prevalent recently.
Along with Russia, other countries where similar occurrences have been reported include China, North Korea, and Iran. The State Department concluded that Griner was being held against her in early May.
As a result, Griner’s case was sent to Roger Carstens, the president’s representative for hostage situations. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, claimed that the accusations were not political and that drug offenses are treated seriously in many nations, including Russia.