August 9, 2022

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Kremlin says Griner prisoner swap should be mentioned with out publicity

Russian prosecutors have requested a courtroom exterior Moscow to condemn Brittney Griner to 9½ years...

Russian prosecutors have requested a courtroom exterior Moscow to condemn Brittney Griner to 9½ years in jail on hashish possession fees.

The prosecutors’ request was made throughout closing arguments Thursday in Griner’s trial, almost six months after the American basketball star was arrested at a Moscow airport in a case that has reached the very best ranges of U.S.-Russia diplomacy.

Griner additionally addressed the choose Thursday, saying she “by no means meant to interrupt any legislation” in Russia by having vape cartridges with hashish oil in her baggage on the time of her arrest Feb. 17 and that it was an trustworthy mistake.

“I do know all people retains speaking about ‘political pawn’ and ‘politics,’ however I hope that’s removed from this courtroom,” Griner stated.

Griner publicly apologized for embarrassing her Yekaterinburg teammates, with whom she performs through the WNBA offseason, over the incident. She additionally apologized to her household, her spouse and the WNBA.

Griner’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina stated a verdict within the case is predicted later Thursday. Blagovolina requested the courtroom to acquit Griner, noting that she had no previous legal report and hailing her function in “the event of Russian basketball.”

If the courtroom does deem it essential to punish her, Blagovolina stated, then Griner — who faces a most sentence of 10 years — ought to obtain essentially the most lenient punishment.

Attorneys for the Phoenix Mercury middle and two-time Olympic gold medalist have pursued methods to bolster Griner’s rivalry that she had no legal intent and that the canisters ended up in her baggage resulting from hasty packing. They’ve introduced character witnesses from the Yekaterinburg staff and written testimony from a health care provider who stated he prescribed her hashish for ache therapy. Alexander Boykov, her different lawyer, additionally stated among the case recordsdata had been drawn up in violation of the legislation.

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Boykov additionally emphasised Griner’s function in serving to Yekaterinburg win a number of championships, noting that she was beloved and admired by her teammates. He advised the choose {that a} conviction would undermine Russia’s efforts to develop nationwide sports activities and make Moscow’s name to depoliticize sports activities sound shallow.

The lawyer added that even after her arrest, Griner gained the sympathy of each her guards and jail inmates, who supported her by shouting, “Brittney, every part might be OK!” when she went on walks on the jail.

Prosecutor Nikolai Vlasenko insisted that Griner packed the hashish oil intentionally and requested the courtroom handy Briner a wonderful of 1 million rubles (about $16,700) along with the jail sentence.

Assuming she doesn’t go free, consideration will flip to the high-stakes risk of a prisoner swap.

Earlier than her trial started in July, the U.S. State Division designated Griner as “wrongfully detained,” transferring her case below the supervision of its particular presidential envoy for hostage affairs, successfully the federal government’s chief hostage negotiator.

Final week, in a unprecedented transfer, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, urging him to just accept a deal below which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would go free.

The Lavrov-Blinken name marked the highest-level recognized contact between Washington and Moscow since Russia despatched troops into Ukraine greater than 5 months in the past. The direct outreach over Griner is at odds with U.S. efforts to isolate the Kremlin.

In response to ESPN and a number of stories, the proposal envisions buying and selling Griner and Whelan for the infamous arms dealer Viktor Bout. It underlines the general public strain that the White Home has confronted to get Griner launched.

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White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre advised reporters Monday that Russia has made a “unhealthy religion” response to the U.S. authorities’s provide, a counteroffer that American officers do not regard as critical. She declined to elaborate.

Russian officers have scoffed at U.S. statements in regards to the case, saying they present a disrespect for Russian legislation. They remained poker-faced, urging Washington to debate the difficulty by means of “quiet diplomacy with out releases of speculative info.”

ESPN’s T.J. Quinn, The Related Press and Reuters contributed to this report.