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WNBA star Brittney Griner testifies at Russia drug trial

KHIMKI, Russia (AP) – American basketball star Brittney Griner He testified Wednesday that a language interpreter at his drug trial in Russia only translated part of what he said during his interrogation and officials ordered him to sign documents without explanation.

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February. He admitted in court earlier this month that he had vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in his luggage when he arrived in Russia, but says he had no criminal intent and packed the cartridges on purpose.

In her testimony, the Phoenix Mercury standout described making a grueling 13-hour flight from Arizona to Moscow while recovering from COVID-19. Griner said she still doesn’t know how the cannabis oil ended up in her bag, but explained that she had a doctor’s recommendation and packed it in a hurry.

He recalled being turned away at the airport on February 17 after inspectors found cartridges.

Accompanied by an interpreter who provided an incomplete translation, Griner said she was not given an explanation of her rights, nor was she told to go to a lawyer and sign documents without an explanation of what they entailed.

After hours of proceedings he didn’t understand, he was allowed to hand over his personal belongings to a lawyer before being taken away in handcuffs, Griner said. He said he received only a brief translation of the allegations at a February 19 hearing where the court ordered his detention.

Griner faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of drug trafficking. His trial began on July 1, and Wednesday was his first appearance as a witness. The court outside Moscow held the previous five short sessions, some lasting about an hour.

It is not clear how long the trial will last, but a court has authorized Griner’s detention until December 20. She went to Russia to play for a Russian team during the WNBA offseason.

During Tuesday’s nearly 90-minute court session, a Russian neuropsychologist testified about the worldwide use of medicinal cannabis, which is illegal in Russia. Griner’s defense team has submitted a letter from a US doctor recommending the basketball player use medical cannabis to treat pain.

Griner testified Wednesday that he was dealing with pain from injuries sustained during his basketball career. He pointed out that in the United States cannabis oil is widely used for medicinal purposes and has fewer negative effects than other painkillers.

A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said last week that the legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational use in some parts of the US had nothing to do with what is happening in Russia.

The slow trial and Griner’s five-month detention have drawn fierce criticism from US teammates and supporters, who have formally declared him to be “wrongfully detained,” a designation Russian officials have vehemently rejected.

Griner was arrested in February amid heightened tensions between the US and Moscow, before Russia sent troops into Ukraine that month. Some supporters say he is being held as a pawn in Russia, possibly for a prisoner exchange. American soccer player Megan Rapinoe said last week that they are “obviously being held as political prisoners.”

Russian media have speculated that Griner could be traded for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is imprisoned in the United States, and that Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia for espionage, could also be part of the swap.

US officials have not commented on the prospects of such a trade. Russian officials have said no exchange can be discussed until the legal proceedings against Griner are over.

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WNBA star Brittney Griner testifies at Russia drug trial Source link WNBA star Brittney Griner testifies at Russia drug trial

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