Tried in Russia, Brittney Griner hopes to “come home”

Tried in Russia, Brittney Griner hopes to «return home


American women's basketball star Brittney Griner hopes to 'come home' after her trial in Russia on cannabis trafficking charges, her lawyer said on Tuesday, as Moscow and Washington negotiate a swap deal prisoners. 

“She knows the end (of the trial) is near. Of course (…), she hopes that she will be able to go home at some point and we hope so too, ”said lawyer Maria Blagovolina, after a new hearing.

The trial “should end very soon. Thursday, there will be the last debates, so the verdict will fall very quickly, ”she added before the court in Khimki, near Moscow.

Arrested in February with vape liquid based on of cannabis when arriving in Moscow, Brittney Griner, considered one of the best basketball players in the world, faces 10 years in prison for smuggling drugs.

The 31-year-old double Olympic champion, 2.06 meters tall, says she brought this substance to Russia inadvertently and refutes any drug trafficking.

During the hearing on Tuesday, an expert quoted by the defense questioned the methodology of the analyzes performed on the vaporizer by the Russian investigators, noting several shortcomings.

“The examination does not meet legal standards in terms of completeness,” said Dmitri Gladychev, forensic chemist. After his testimony, the trial was adjourned to Thursday.

Griner's trial has taken on another dimension in recent days with talks between Moscow and Washington on a possible prisoner exchange of which the player could be part.

On Friday, the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had their first talks since the start of Moscow's offensive in Ukraine.

Mr. Blinken said Washington had made a “substantial offer” to Moscow to secure the release of Griner and another American detained in Russia, Paul Whelan.

Asked Tuesday about those negotiations, the door – Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the discussions should “keep confidential” because “public exchanges of opinions will not produce any results”.

Griner's lawyer said on Tuesday that the defense of the player was not involved in the negotiations, while emphasizing that such a measure would be “legally possible” after her conviction.