clearn.png
Sunday August 7th, 2022 10:21PM

Russian judge finds WNBA's Griner illegally carried drugs

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

KHIMKI, Russia (AP) — A judge in Russia is preparing to give her verdict in American basketball star Brittney Griner's drug possession trial.

While recapping the evidence and giving her findings Thursday, the judge said the 31-year-old Griner A illegally brought drugs into Russia.

The pronouncement by the judge appeared to herald the imminent conviction of Griner on charges of possession and smuggling of cannabis oil.

Before the unusually quick verdict was announced, Griner made a final appeal to the court . She said she had no intention to break the law by bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oil when she flew to Moscow in February to play basketball in the city of Yekaterinburg.

Griner’s translator whispered to her through the bar's of the defendant's cage what was rapidly read out by the judge.

Under Russian law, the 31-year-old Griner faces up to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors have requested a 9 1/2-year term, but judges have considerable latitude on sentencing.

If she does not go free, attention will turn to the possibility of a high-stakes prisoner swap that was proposed last week by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to his Russian counterpart.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

KHIMKI, Russia (AP) — An emotional Brittney Griner apologized in a Russian court Thursday as her drug possession trial drew to a close, and a prosecutor urged that the American basketball star be convicted and sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison in a case that reached the highest levels of U.S.-Russian diplomacy.

With a judge set to issue an unusually swift verdict later in the day and a conviction all but certain, Griner made a final appeal to the court. She said she had no intention to break the law by bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oil when she flew to Moscow in February to play basketball in the city of Yekaterinburg.

“I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them,” Griner said, her voice cracking. “I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home.”

Under Russian law, the 31-year-old Griner faces up to 10 years in prison, but judges have considerable latitude on sentencing.

If she does not go free, attention will turn to the possibility of a high-stakes prisoner swap that was proposed last week by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to his Russian counterpart.

Griner said she made “an honest mistake” in bringing the vape cartridges into Russia, adding: “I hope in your ruling it does not end my life.”

Griner said Yekaterinburg, a city east of the Ural Mountains, had become her “second home.”

“I had no idea that the team, the cities, the fans, my teammates would make such a great impression on me over the 6 1/2 years that I spent here,” she said. “I remember vividly coming out of the gym and all the little girls that were in the stands there waiting on me, and that’s what kept making me come back here.”

Prosecutor Nikolai Vlasenko insisted that Griner packed the cannabis oil deliberately, and he asked the court to hand Briner a fine of 1 million rubles (about $16,700) in addition to the prison sentence.

Lawyers for the Phoenix Mercury center and two-time Olympic gold medalist have sought to bolster Griner's contention that she had no criminal intent and that the canisters ended up in her luggage by mistake. They presented character witnesses from the Yekaterinburg team that she plays for in the WNBA offseason and written testimony from a doctor who said he prescribed her cannabis for pain treatment from injuries sustained in her basketball career.

Her lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, argued that Griner used the cannabis only in Arizona, where medical marijuana is legal.

She emphasized that Griner was packing in haste after a grueling flight and suffering from the consequences of COVID-19. Blagovolina also pointed out that the analysis of cannabis found in Griner's possession was flawed and violated legal procedures.

Blagovolina asked the court to acquit Griner, noting that she had no past criminal record and hailing her role in "the development of Russian basketball."

Another defense attorney, Alexander Boykov, emphasized Griner's role in taking her Yekaterinburg team to win multiple championships, noting that she was loved and admired by her teammates. He told the judge that a conviction would undermine Russia's efforts to develop national sports and make Moscow's call to depoliticize sports sound shallow.

Boykov added that even after her arrest, Griner won the sympathy of both her guards and prison inmates, who supported her by shouting, “Brittney, everything will be OK!” when she went on walks at the jail.

Before her trial began in July, the State Department designated her as “wrongfully detained,” moving her case under the supervision of its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.

Then last week, in an extraordinary move, Blinken spoke to Russian Foreign Minister 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.

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 over Griner is at odds with U.S. efforts to isolate the Kremlin.

People familiar with the proposal say it envisions trading Griner and Whelan for the notorious arms trader Viktor Bout, who is serving a prison sentence in the United States. It underlines the public pressure that the White House has faced to get Griner released.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said 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.

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.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Entertainment, APOnline Celebrity News, AP Sports - WNBA
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Feds charge 4 police officers in fatal Breonna Taylor raid
The U.S. Justice Department has charged four Louisville police officers involved in the deadly Breonna Taylor raid with civil rights violations
1:32PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Bank of England predicts recession at the end of the year
The Bank of England has announced its biggest interest rate increase in 27 years
1:31PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Florida governor suspends prosecutor over new abortion law
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended the elected state prosecutor of Tampa for pledging not to enforce the state’s new 15-week abortion ban and for supporting gender transition treatments for minors
1:24PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Russian judge convicts WNBA's Griner, gives 9-year sentence
A judge in Russia has convicted and sentenced American basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for drug possession and smuggling
11:40AM ( 2 hours ago )
Iman Shumpert arrested at Texas airport for pot possession
Former NBA player Iman Shumpert was arrested at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport last weekend for allegedly trying to bring six ounces of cannabis through security
11:33AM ( 2 hours ago )
Russian judge sentences WNBA's Griner to 9 years in prison
A judge in Russia has convicted and sentenced American basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for drug possession and smuggling
11:29AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
UConn's Bueckers suffers torn ACL, will miss upcoming season
UConn says women’s basketball star Paige Bueckers tore the ACL in her left knee during a pickup game and will miss the entire 2022-23 season
4:40PM ( 21 hours ago )
Ex-WNBA star Lauren Jackson savors each day of her comeback
Australian basketball star Lauren Jackson is making a comeback after retiring six years ago
7:39PM ( 1 day ago )
WNBA playoff picture still muddled, 2 weeks left in season
The WNBA playoff picture is still unclear with two weeks left in the regular season
1:56PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Basketball
Autopsy: Family killed at Iowa park shot, stabbed, strangled
Autopsy results say three family members killed during a shooting last month at an eastern Iowa state park were shot, stabbed and/or strangled
12:47PM ( 1 hour ago )
China conducts 'precision missile strikes' in Taiwan Strait
China says it has conducted “precision missile strikes" in the Taiwan Strait as part of military exercises by its navy, air force and other departments in six zones surrounding the island
12:17PM ( 1 hour ago )
Parkland, Florida, jury tours bloody school massacre scene
Jurors in the trial of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz have toured the still-bloodstained building where he murdered 17 people four years ago
12:09PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Trump-aligned challengers ousting GOP legislative incumbents
Republican state lawmakers this year have been losing in primaries at nearly twice the average rate of the past decade
10:46AM ( 3 hours ago )
In S. Korea, Pelosi avoids public comments on Taiwan, China
After infuriating China over her trip to Taiwan, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has met South Korean political leaders in Seoul
10:00AM ( 3 hours ago )
Dirty tricks in Kansas via text: Does yes actually mean no?
The day before Kansas voters rejected a ballot question that could have eroded abortion rights, many people in the state reported receiving anonymous text messages with misleading information about the vote
9:48AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Munich's Oktoberfest finally back on after pandemic pause
Germany's annual Oktoberfest festival is finally on again for this fall, following a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic
7:05AM ( 6 hours ago )
Ellen Pompeo cutting back on her 'Grey's Anatomy' episodes
Dr_ Meredith Grey will be cutting back her workload next season on “Grey’s Anatomy.”
3:26AM ( 10 hours ago )
Chrissy Teigen reveals baby bump after 2020 pregnancy loss
Chrissy Teigen and her husband John Legend are expecting another child nearly two years after the couple suffered a pregnancy loss
3:18AM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Driver gets 1 year in jail in death of Nicki Minaj’s father
The driver in a hit-and-run crash that killed the father of rapper Nicki Minaj last year has been sentenced to a year in jail, in keeping with a promise the judge made when the man pleaded guilty in May
4:15PM ( 21 hours ago )
Dolly Parton among Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy winners
Country superstar Dolly Parton is among the 2022 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy recipients
8:05AM ( 1 day ago )
Senate approves bill to aid vets exposed to toxic burn pits
The Senate has given final approval to a bill enhancing health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan
9:10PM ( 1 day ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
Russia's Lavrov says he will discuss US prisoner swap offer
Russia's top diplomat says he’s open to a call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss a possible prisoner swap involving American basketball star Brittney Griner
5:30AM ( 6 days ago )
WNBA's Griner tells drug trial: 'My career is my whole life'
WNBA star Brittney Griner testified at her drug possession trial in Russia  that an interpreter translated only a fraction of what was said during questioning when she was detained at Moscow’s airport in February and officials told her to sign documents without giving an explanation
6:56PM ( 1 week ago )
WNBA's Griner tells court of poor translation at her arrest
WNBA star Brittney Griner testified at her drug possession trial in Russia  that an interpreter translated only a fraction of what was said during questioning when she was detained at Moscow’s airport in February and officials told her to sign documents without giving an explanation
12:12PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Sports - WNBA
WNBA's Griner convicted at drug trial, sentenced to 9 years
A judge in Russia convicted American basketball star Brittney Griner of drug possession and smuggling
1:17PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Feds charge 4 police officers in fatal Breonna Taylor raid
The U.S. Justice Department has charged four Louisville police officers involved in the deadly Breonna Taylor raid with civil rights violations
1:32PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Bank of England predicts recession at the end of the year
The Bank of England has announced its biggest interest rate increase in 27 years
1:31PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Florida governor suspends prosecutor over new abortion law
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended the elected state prosecutor of Tampa for pledging not to enforce the state’s new 15-week abortion ban and for supporting gender transition treatments for minors
1:24PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Anger, clashes in South Africa following gang rape arrests
Community members in the South African city of Krugersdorp have beaten suspected illegal miners with sticks and set fire to their camps following the arrests of more than 80 men suspected of gang raping eight women last week
1:20PM ( 34 minutes ago )