This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner has appeared in a Russian court for the fifth hearing in her slow-moving trial on drug charges that could see her sentenced to a decade in prison.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist made a brief court appearance at the Khimki court near Moscow on July 26 as her defense team presented evidence in a hearing that lasted about an hour. Another hearing is scheduled for July 27.
The 31-year-old Griner, who appeared in court wearing a black-and-gray sweatshirt with “Black Lives For Peace” written on it, has been detained in Russia since authorities said they found cannabis oil in vape cartridges in her luggage when she passed through Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February.
Griner’s lawyers put a narcology expert on the stand to explain how athletes such as Griner routinely use medical cannabis where it’s legal as a method to manage pain and injuries.
“With the prescription in place, Brittney may have used it for medical but not recreational purposes,” Maria Blagovolina, Griner’s lawyer, said.
U.S. officials say she was wrongfully detained and have assigned a special official for “hostage” situations to her case.
Griner faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the drugs possession charges in a case that critics fear is an attempt by Moscow to extract concessions from Washington amid Russia’s war on Ukraine and with relations at a low point.
She has already acknowledged possessing the vape cartridges.
The U.S. government is under pressure at home to do more to secure her freedom.
When she was detained, Griner was returning to play for the Yekaterinburg team in the off-season of the U.S. Women’s National Basketball Association.
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Author: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
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