Lawyers said Britney Greiner will be questioned at trial

Grenier, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, appeared for a brief hearing in the Khimki District Court in the Moscow region on Tuesday while her defense team presented evidence.

Greiner, 31, pleaded guilty to drug charges earlier this month, but the US State Department says she is being unjustly detained. She faces up to 10 years in prison. Graner’s supporters have demanded her release over fears she could be used as a political pawn amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.

At Tuesday’s hearing, which lasted about an hour, the drug scientist brought in by Griner’s lawyers said that based on the WNBA player’s prescription, Griner likely used the cannabis oil in her bag for medicinal rather than recreational purposes.

Drug scientist, Mikhail Tetyushkin, explained that “medical cannabis is a popular remedy specifically among athletes” in many countries outside Russia.

Tetyushkin provided the court with information on the use of medical marijuana by athletes, saying that frequent use of cannabis is incompatible with professional sports due to its relaxing effect and inhibition of reaction times.

He also told the court on Tuesday that there was no global standard on the amount of cannabis in medical marijuana.

Grenier’s attorney, Maria Blagovolina, told the court that the initial report from the prosecution’s expert witness was “inconsistent” and did not comply with scientific and legal standards.

Blagovolina said the prosecution’s expert witness report did not specify the quantitative content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the cannabis oil found in Griner’s luggage. THC is the main psychoactive substance in cannabis.

When the session concluded, Blagovolina said Tetyushkin “made it clear that in different countries – namely in the United States – medical cannabis is a popular treatment specifically among athletes.”

“So, with the prescription in place, Britney probably used it for medicinal rather than recreational purposes,” Blagovolina added.

Tuesday’s hearing, the fifth so far in Greiner’s criminal trial, was attended by Chargé d’Affairs, Elizabeth Rudd.

Grenier’s lawyers said the trial is expected to conclude early next month.

Greiner has been in detention since February

Megan Rapinoe and Steph Curry among the stars to call for the release of Brittney Griner at the ESPY Awards

Basketball star Phoenix Mercury was arrested in February at Moscow airport with less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage. Greiner, who plays in Russia during the WNBA off-season, has since been in custody on drug trafficking charges. Her trial began in early July.

At the beginning of her trial in Moscow, a prosecutor accused Greiner of deliberately smuggling drugs into Russia.
The official RIA Novosti news agency reported that Greiner told the court that she did not intend to commit a crime and that it was the result of her hastily determined. Her defense team told Russian judges that he had prescribed medicinal cannabis for her “severe chronic pain”.

The defense hopes that the court will consider the petition as a mitigating factor and the verdict will not be harsh.

A source close to her said the decision to plead guilty was made by Greiner alone. But in recent weeks Greiner, her family, her lawyers and experts have discussed this decision at length. Given the reported conviction rate of 99% in Russian criminal cases, Griner was urged to weigh all factors, including the petition, which could ultimately lead to a shorter sentence.

Some speculated that Grenier could be released and returned to the United States in a prisoner exchange, as was the case with Trevor Reed, an American veteran who was held in Russia for three years before being released in April.

However, before any possible prisoner exchange, Grenier was expected to be found guilty and to admit wrongdoing, a senior US official told CNN. The official said Reed had to sign a guilty plea – something he resisted for nearly the entire time of his detention – just days before he was allowed out.

“Please don’t forget me”

Many in the WNBA, along with other athletes, coaches, and politicians, have called for Griner’s release. Greiner wrote a letter to President Joe Biden that was delivered to the White House this month, saying she fears she will be held in Russia indefinitely.

Greiner wrote, “I realize you’re dealing with a lot, but please don’t forget me and the other American detainees. Please do everything in your power to bring us home.” “I voted for the first time in 2020 and voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much to do with my freedom that you can help get it back.”

Griner has some supporters in Russia, where she played during the WNBA offseason. A former teammate with UMMC manager Ekaterinburg — the team that Griner played with in Western Russia until her contract expired after she was taken into custody — testified at an earlier hearing.

“Britney has always been a good teammate, which is why my role here is to support her and be there for her,” said captain Evgenia Belyakova after the hearing.

Plyakova, the former captain of the Russian national team, added: “We miss her and her energy very much. I was very happy to see her. I hope the process will soon be completed and it will end well.”

This story has been updated with additional developments and background information.

CNN’s Niamh Kennedy, Abi Phillip, Dakin Andon and Alaa El-Assar contributed to this report.

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