American basketball star Brittney Greener, escorted by a masked police officer with a dog in handcuffs, appeared in a Russian court on Tuesday for another hearing that could be charged against her in the middle of this month. conviction ended. the lawyer said.
One of the best players of her generation, Ms. Greener is caught up in a high-stakes rivalry between Moscow and Washington that has turned into a direct confrontation with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As the case goes to court, the debate over Ms. Greener’s fate has increasingly moved to the diplomatic realm, with Russia and the United States suggesting she may be involved in a swap of high-profile Russians detained in the United States.
Last week, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the administration had “made a substantial proposal,” but declined to discuss details. On Thursday, he discussed the matter with his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, in their first conference call since the Ukraine war. But no breakthroughs have been reported, and no progress is expected until a judge in the town of Khimki near Moscow delivers a verdict on the case.
Mr. Greener, 31, was detained at Moscow airport a week before Russia invaded Ukraine when he traveled to Yekaterinburg, Russia to play for a local team. Customs officials found two cartridges containing e-liquid in her luggage.
However, news of her detention was only made public after the war began. She was charged with attempting to smuggle large quantities of illegal drugs into Russia, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Last month, Ms. Greener pleaded guilty to the charges, stressing that she had no intention of breaking Russian law and that the illegal substance had been in her luggage due to negligence in rushing to pack. In Russia, a guilty plea will not end a trial, and proceedings are expected to last until mid-August, according to her legal team.
Her lawyers, Maria Blagovolina and Aleksandr Boikov, are trying to persuade the judge to suspend the final sentence. They had one of Mr. Greener’s Russian teammates, Yevgeniya Belyakova, as well as the team’s director and doctor, to testify. Her legal team also argues that she is authorized to use medicinal marijuana in Arizona, where she has played for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013 to relieve pain from injuries to her spine, ankle and knee.
In her own testimony in court last week, Ms Griner described how she faced a confusing and sometimes confusing Russian legal system after being detained. She said she did not explain her rights to her and was only provided with a lawyer 16 hours after she was detained. Ms Greener also said she was instructed to sign the document but did not explain what it meant and that the interpreters provided by law enforcement “had barely translated anything”.