“Griner will testify tomorrow, and after that, it’s her decision whether she answers any questions or not,” Alexander Boykov, a lawyer for the WNBA star, told CNN. Prosecutors are also expected to cross-examine Griner on Wednesday.
Griner has been in custody since February, following being detained at a Moscow-area airport for having vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Earlier this month, the Phoenix Mercury player pleaded guilty to carrying cannabis oil into Russia. If convicted, she could be sentenced to prison for up to 10 years.
On Tuesday, she spoke with U.S. Embassy staff before the trial resumed, per Washington Post, where Griner held up a photo from inside a defendant’s cage. In a brief conversation with ABC News, Griner said she has “no complaints” and is “waiting patiently” to return home.
Brittney Griner tells ABC News she wants to wish her wife, Cherelle Griner, "good luck on the bar exam," as the WNBA star's drug trial in Russia resumes. @maggierulli reports. https://t.co/qbNJaDaFVX pic.twitter.com/qBBqpKfdqT
— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 26, 2022
During Tuesday’s hour-long hearing, the defense team argued that the cannabis oil found in her luggage was for medicinal purposes and not recreational. They called narcologist Mikhail Tetyushkin to testify on her behalf, who said that “medical cannabis is a popular treatment specifically among athletes” in many countries outside Russia. Griner’s lawyers also presented evidence that Griner tested negative for marijuana.
When the hearing ended, one of her lawyers, Maria Blagovolina, reiterated that Griner used cannabis oil for medicinal purposes and that they had previously shown the court medical certificates demonstrating that she suffers from chronic pain.
Blogovolina said Tetyushkin “explained that in various countries — namely in the U.S. — medical cannabis is a popular treatment specifically among athletes.”
Blagovolina added, “Thus, with the prescription in place, Brittney may have used it for medical but not recreational purposes.”
Griner’s other lawyer, Alexander Boikov, said the defense is not arguing about whether Griner had the right to bring the cannabis oil into Russia. “We will continue to insist that she was in a hurry when she packed her baggage and did not notice that substances banned in Russia ended up in her suitcase,” he said. “We insist that she had no intent.”