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Brittney Griner Recounts That When She Was Held at the Moscow Airport, Her Rights Were Not Explained to Her

Jeremy Caroll

A translator translated only a part of what was being spoken to Brittney Griner as she was held at Moscow’s airport in February, and officials urged her to sign documents, but “no one explained any of it to me,” she testified at her drug possession trial in Russia on Monday.

According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Washington has presented a proposal to Russia in an abrupt shift from the prior policy that would bring back WNBA star Brittney Griner as well as another imprisoned American, Paul Whelan. Whelan and Griner would be exchanged for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, according to a source who was briefed on the subject by the Associated Press. An individual requested anonymity in order to speak about an ongoing investigation.

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On the first day of the trial, Griner testified that she had neither explanation of her rights nor access to counsel during her incarceration because of the bad translation at the airport. According to her, she communicated with a customs official via phone translation software.

After police stated they found marijuana oil in her suitcase, Griner has been detained since February. In a statement, she admitted to the allegations but insisted her actions were motivated by a desire to play in a Russian basketball league during the WNBA’s summer and that she had no illegal intent.

The tone of her testimony became emotional at one point when she declared she had always obeyed the rules and never let down her teammates.

“She said, “My profession is my life.” “Every bit of me — my time, my energy, the time I spent away from my loved ones — was devoted to this project. I was away from home for six months of the year, and there was a tremendous time difference.”

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Prior to Russia sending troops into Ukraine later that month, relations between Moscow and Washington were at an all-time high. The lengthy trial and Griner’s five-month arrest have sparked outrage among her colleagues and fans in the United States, which has declared her to be “wrongfully held” — a claim that Russian authorities have vehemently disputed.

If found guilty, Griner, 31, may be sentenced to 10 years in jail. There is speculation that her guilty plea was a ploy to expedite the judicial procedure in the hopes of a prisoner exchange in Russia.

Wednesday’s session began with a request by Griner’s legal team for her to appear outside of a Russian courtroom norm, alleging that the 6-foot-9 (206-centimeter) athlete couldn’t stand while testifying in a cage. Even though the judge turned down her motion, she was nonetheless allowed to talk while seated.

While recovering from COVID-19, the former Phoenix Mercury star and two-time Olympic gold medalist reported flying from Arizona to Moscow in a difficult 13-hour flight. Her doctor had prescribed the cannabis oil for her chronic pain as a result of sporting injuries, but Griner stated she has no idea how it got into her luggage.

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Although Griner said she was aware of the Russian statute prohibiting the use of cannabis oil, she claimed she had no idea how it had gotten up in her luggage.

“Griner said she had no intention of using or possessing any forbidden substance in Russia, adding that she was aware of the charges she faces.

“I assume full responsibility for them being in my luggage, but I had no intention of smuggling anything into Russia, she stated.

Inspectors discovered the cartridges on Feb. 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, and she recalls being taken aside.

Griner said she was given some paperwork instead of an explanation of her rights or speedy access to her counsel by an interpreter who provided only a basic translation.

“I had to sign some forms,” she explained. “Assuming they were discussing the search and cartridges, I can only conclude

“I didn’t know exactly what I was signing,” Griner claimed, because a lady posing as an interpreter just told her where to sign and didn’t “explain the contents.”

She asserted her legal rights “Nobody ever mentioned anything to me about it.”

Once in a while, she checked her phone “in the city of Yekaterinburg, where she is a member of a club from the Ural Mountains.

“Griner remarked that he had never been fully explained to him. “At that point, I felt compelled to contact my family and agency and request legal assistance because I felt like I was being held against my will by the words sign here.’

Before being handcuffed and taken away, she was eventually able to give over her stuff to a lawyer, Griner added. According to her, she was only given a basic translation of the allegations she was facing during the investigation.

During a discussion with a detective, an interpreter failed to properly explain the accusations leveled at Griner, as well as other instances of linguistic difficulties.

Griner added, “The translations weren’t very excellent.” One time I saw him receive papers that were supposed to be translated and he looked at them briefly and said: ‘Basically you are guilty.'”

According to Griner’s lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, she “repeatedly emphasized that she had no desire to bring the illegal chemicals into Russia,” after the session on Wednesday was completed.

The 2nd of August had been set aside for the following trial. At this point, it’s unknown how long Griner’s trial will go in the Moscow neighborhood of Khimki, where the airport is located, which began on July 1. Her imprisonment has been permitted until December 20th after five earlier sessions of the court were cut short due to time constraints.

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