According to a Reuters journalist who is covering the trial, the defense team for U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner explained to a Russian court on Friday the athlete was prescribed medical cannabis to help with a chronic injury. She pled guilty to drugs charges after she was detained at a Moscow airport in February for carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil.
Griner faces up to 10 years in prison. In addition, her lawyers submitted documents on Friday stating that she had “inadvertently” brought the cartridges into Russia but that the state of Arizona had issued her a permit to use medical cannabis. Maria Blagovolina, Griner’s lawyer, who is a partner at Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin and Partners, told Reuters:
“The defense today provided written evidence, including character materials, medical documents and tax returns. Among the medical documents is a doctor’s note for the substance that Brittney Griner inadvertently left among her belongings when crossing the border.”
Blagovolina also shared that UMMC Ekaterinburg club boss Maxim Ryabkov testified on Thursday to account for Griner’s “outstanding abilities as a player and personal contribution to strengthening team spirit.” However, that hearing was closed to reporters.
Yevgenia Belyakova, who serves as team captain, also testified on Griner’s behalf at the court. “It was an extremely emotional day for Brittney, who was touched by the appearance of the club director, head physician and her teammate, who gave an extremely positive description of our client both personally and professionally,” Blagovolina stated.
Recently, President Joe Biden said he would do everything in his power to return Griner to the U.S. Last week, The Root reported that a U.S. negotiator may head to Russia to help ensure her release.