Russian prosecutors asked Russian court on Thursday to sentence American basketball starJailed for 9 1/2 years in the final arguments of her drug possession trial.
Nearly six months after Greener’s arrest at a Moscow airport, the trial is drawing to a close and the case has reached the highest level of U.S.-Russian diplomacy, with Washington proposing a prisoner swap. Under Russian law, Griner, 31, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Although convictions are almost certain, judges have wide latitude in sentencing given that Russian courts rarely acquit defendants and Griner admitted she had vaping cartridges containing marijuana oil in her luggage.
“I never intended to harm anyone to endanger the Russian people or violate any Russian law. I made an honest mistake and I hope your ruling will not end my life here,” Greener apologized in court on Thursday. To her family, her teammates, her fans and the Russian people.
“I know everyone is talking about political pawns and politics, but I want that to stay away from this court…I want you to take into account all the documents, all the lists of people that everyone sent on my behalf… This is my second home and all I want to do is win titles and make them proud.”
Attorneys at the Mercury Center in Phoenix and two-time Olympic gold medalist have employed tactics to support Griner’s argument that she had no criminal intent and that the jars ended up in her luggage as a result of the hasty packing. They provided witnesses for her role on the Russia team she played in the WNBA offseason, as well as written testimony from a doctor who said he prescribed her marijuana for pain.
An attorney on Griner’s defense team, Maria Blagovolina, argued that Griner inadvertently brought the cartridges to Russia and used marijuana as a drug only in Arizona, where medical marijuana is legal. Prosecutor Nikolai Vlasenko argued that Griner deliberately packaged the cannabis oil.
It is unclear when the verdict will be announced.If she is not free, attention will turn to high risk.
Before her trial began in July, the State Department placed her in “wrongful detention,” transferring her case under the supervision of its presidential envoy for hostages, who is effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken took the extraordinary step of urging him to accept a deal under which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American held in Russia on espionage charges, would be released . .
The Lavrov-Blinken call marks the highest-level known contact between Washington and Moscow since Russia sent troops into Ukraine more than five months ago. Direct engagement with Greener was at odds with U.S. efforts to isolate the Kremlin.
People familiar with the proposal say it envisions trading Greener and Whelan for the notorious arms dealer. It highlights the public pressure the White House is facing to get Greener free.
White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday that Russia had responded “maliciously” to the U.S. government’s offer, a counteroffer that U.S. officials did not consider serious. She declined to elaborate.
Russian officials scoffed at U.S. statements on the case, saying they showed disrespect for Russian law. Still deadpan, they urged Washington to discuss the issue through “quiet diplomacy without speculative messages.”
in aFrom Greener, who was sent to the White House, the WNBA player wrote how terrified she could be in Russia “forever”.