Brittney Griner’s court hearing ends without a verdict – another hearing is scheduled for Friday


Brittney Griner's court hearing ends without a verdict - another hearing is scheduled for Friday

She is expected to appear in court at 10 a.m. (3 p.m. ET), the official said.

Griner was back in court Thursday, a week after pleading guilty to drug charges. The US State Department said she was being wrongly detained.

A former teammate and the director of UMMC Ekaterinburg, the team Griner played for in western Russia during the WNBA offseason, testified at the hearing. “Brittney has always been a good teammate, so my job here is to support and be there for her,” team captain Evgeniya Belyakova said after the hearing.

Belyakova, a former captain of the Russia national team, added: “We miss her and her energy so much. I was very happy to see her. I hope the process ends soon and ends well.”

Team director Maksim Ryabkov also spoke for Griner, saying he told the court “what a huge role she played in the success of the Yekaterinburg club and Russian women’s basketball in general with her performances in the EuroLeague, how she raised our national standings.” Has.”

A statement from Griner’s defense team supplemented Ryabkov’s testimony, saying he “described Brittney Griner positively during his speech in court, highlighting her outstanding skills as a player and her personal contribution to strengthening team spirit, which has enabled the team to achieve the highest results.” in the Russian Basketball Premier League and in international competitions for many years.”

Griner’s contract with UMMC Ekaterinburg expired after her imprisonment. UMMC stands for Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company. According to Forbes, the team’s parent company was founded by Andrei Kozitsyn and Iskander Makhmudov, both of whom were on a list of US Treasury Department politicians and oligarchs who rose to prominence under President Vladimir Putin.

Ahead of Thursday’s hearing, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on a possible prisoner swap including Griner in a conference call with reporters, saying Russian-US relations had deteriorated.

Griner’s legal team was expected to plead for leniency as his client faces up to 10 years in prison. Elizabeth Rood, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, attended the hearing.

The two-time US Olympiad basketball gold medalist was arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine. Russian authorities claimed she had cannabis oil in her luggage and accused her of smuggling significant quantities of a narcotic.
Thursday’s hearing came as many in the WNBA, along with other athletes, coaches and politicians, have called for Griner’s release over concerns she is being used as a political pawn amid the war in Ukraine.

“We just want to make sure her name is out there, that people know her story,” Sue Bird, who played with Griner on Team USA, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday. “We want to support the administration. We want to make sure they do everything they can. Some might call it a bit of pressure, (but) we call it support, and we just want to make sure her name is out there.”

Writing a letter to President Joe Biden, delivered to the White House this month, Griner said she fears being held indefinitely in Russia.

“I realize that you are involved in so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American prisoners. Please do whatever you can to get us home,” Griner wrote. “I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore it.”

Griner admitted her guilt at her most recent hearing but told the court she had no intention of committing a crime, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Griner’s lawyers hope the court will consider the 31-year-old athlete’s guilty plea, Alexander Boykov and Blagovolina told journalists last week.

Samples taken from Griner showed no trace of drugs, Boykov added: “She was clean and she was tested.”

Brittney Griner pleads guilty to drug-related offenses in Russian court

It was Griner’s decision to plead guilty, her legal team said, adding that she “sets an example of being brave.”

“She has decided to take full responsibility for her actions, knowing that she is a role model for many people,” her statement said.

“Given the nature of their case, the insignificant amount of BG’s substance and personality, and history of positive contributions to global and Russian sport, the defense hopes the lawsuit will be considered by the court as a mitigating circumstance and that there will be no aggravated sentence .”

The Houston native, 6-foot-9, is one of the most decorated players in basketball. In addition to Griner’s Olympic gold medals, she has won two world championships, a WNBA championship and an NCAA championship. She was twice named the WNBA’s top scorer and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, and was selected to seven All-Star teams prior to her incarceration. Earlier this month, she was named an honorary all-star at this year’s competition.

CNN’s Kylie Atwood, Chris Liakos, Rosa Flores, Jacqueline Rose, Alexa Miranda, Abby Phillip, Dakin Andone and Alaa Elassar contributed to this report.

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