Brittney Griner: Examination of substance in vape cartridges violated Russian law, defense expert says



CNN

The examination of the substance contained in the vaping cartridges which WNBA Star Brittney Griner transported to a Moscow airport in February did not comply with Russian law, a defense expert testified on Tuesday in her trial for drug trafficking.

Among the violations is that the test results did not show the amount of THC in the substance, Griner’s attorney Maria Blagovolina said after the hearing.

“The examination does not comply with the law in terms of completeness of study and does not meet the standards of the Criminal Procedure Code,” forensic chemist Dmitry Gladyshev said for the defense during the trial session. about two hours.

The defense also interviewed prosecutor’s expert Alexander Korablyov, who examined Griner’s cartridges taken from his luggage.

Griner’s appearance at the Khimki city courthouse marked his seventh hearing as Russian prosecutors accuse him of attempting to smuggle less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in his luggage. She pleaded guilty to drug charges – a move his lawyers hope will result in a lesser sentence – and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Despite the guilty plea, the US State Department maintains that she is wrongfully detained. Supporters of Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who plays in Russia during the WNBA offseason, have called for her release over fears she could be used as a political pawn amid Russia’s war against Ukraine.

U.S. officials are facing immense pressure from Griner’s family, lawmakers and the professional basketball community to bring her home, perhaps as a part of a prisoner exchange. grinning wrote to President Joe Biden begging him to do everything in his power to facilitate his release.

The 31-year-old sat in the defendant’s cage in the courtroom on Tuesday. U.S. Embassy Moscow Chargé d’Affaires Elizabeth Rood attended Tuesday’s hearing and said afterwards that the United States “will continue to support Ms. Griner every step of the way.” and as long as it takes to get her back to the United States.” without issue.”

Griner’s next hearing is set for Thursday.

Outside the courthouse on Tuesday, one of his attorneys told CNN that Griner was focused but nervous about the upcoming verdict.

“…She always knows the end is near, and of course she heard the news, so she hopes that one day she can come home, and we hope too,” Blagovolina said.

Asked about their team’s strategy to challenge Russian prosecutors’ evidence, Blagovolina said, “Well, there are a lot of factors that should be taken into account by the court. She admitted she brought something, but we need to know what she brought. What material ?”

Blagovolina also told CNN that experts on his team had identified “a few flaws” in the machines used to measure the substance.

At trial, Griner testified that she had a medical prescription for medical cannabis and had no intention of smuggling the drug into Russia. After her detention in February, she was tested for drugs and was clean, her lawyers previously said.

Lawyers for WNBA star: Cannabis was prescribed

Griner’s lawyers have already presented some arguments claiming that the basketball player’s detention was not handled properly after she was arrested on February 17 by staff at Sheremetyevo International Airport.

His detention, search and arrest were “inappropriate”, said Alexander Boykov, one of his lawyers, last week, noting that more details would be revealed during oral arguments.

After being arrested at the airport, Griner was asked to sign documents that she did not understand, she testified. At first, she says, she used Google Translate on her phone, but was later moved to another room where her phone was taken and made to sign more documents.

No lawyer was present, she testified, and her rights were not explained to her. These rights would include access to a lawyer once detained and the right to know what she was suspected of. According to Russian law, she should have been informed of her rights within three hours of her arrest.

In her testimony, Griner “explained to the court that she knows and respects Russian laws and that she never intended to break them,” said Blagovolina – a partner at Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin & Partners – after last week’s hearing.

The detained player testified that she was aware of Russian laws and had no intention of bringing cannabis oil into the country, noting that she was in a hurry and was “packing the stress “.

Griner confirmed she had a medical prescription for medical cannabis, Blagovolina said, which she uses to treat knee pain and joint inflammation.

“We continue to insist that, indiscreetly, in a hurry, she packed her suitcase and did not pay attention to the fact that substances authorized for use in the United States ended up in this suitcase and arrived in the Russian Federation,” Boykov, of the Moscow Law Center, said.

The Kremlin warned on Tuesday that US “megaphone diplomacy” will not help negotiations for a prisoner swap involving Griner.

Speaking on a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow believed the talks should be “low-key”.

“Malephone diplomacy and the public exchange of positions will not lead to results here,” Peskov added.

The comments come less than a week after CNN reported that the Biden administration had proposed a prisoner exchange with Russiaoffering to free a convicted Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, in exchange for Griner and another American detainee, Paul Whelan.

Russian officials countered the American offersaid several sources familiar with the discussions, asking the United States to also include a convicted murderer who was formerly a colonel in the Russian spy agency, Vadim Krasikov.

US officials did not accept the request as a legitimate counter-offer, the sources told CNN, in part because the proposal was sent through an informal channel. Krasikov’s release would also be complicated as he is in German custody.

“This is a bad faith attempt to avoid a very serious offer and proposal that the United States has put forward and we urge Russia to take this offer seriously,” the Defense Ministry spokesman said. , John Kirby, to CNN, later adding, “We really want to see Brittney and Paul go home to their families where they belong.

Griner’s family, supporters and WNBA teammates have continued to express messages of solidarity and hope as they await the conclusion of the trial.

Ahead of the trial last week, the WNBA players union tweeted, “Dear BG… It’s early in Moscow. Our day is ending and yours is just beginning. Not a day, not an hour goes by that you are not in our minds and in our hearts.

This story was updated with additional developments on Tuesday.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Brittney Griner’s first name.

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