The WNBA star, 31, told the court that Russian officials did not read any rights to her when she was arrested at the Moscow airport for possession of cannabis oil in Februaryaccording to The Washington Post.
While Griner said a translator at the airport told her where to go, nobody explained to her what was happening, and she described the general translation services offered to her during her months-long detention in Russia as “inadequate.”
“I remember one time there was a stack of papers that [the translator] needed to translate for me. He took a brief look and then said the exact words were, ‘Basically you are guilty,’ ” Griner testified.
During her testimony, the WNBA star told the court via a translator that she was aware she was not allowed to bring cannabis oil into the country and said she still does not “understand how they ended up in her bag.”
“I had no intention to break the law,” she said, adding that she was stressed and rushed while packing and was recovering from a then-recent COVID-19 diagnosis that required her to take a test before getting on a plane.
Griner also tested that upon her arrest, she did not receive access to a lawyer and was made to sign documents without being told what they meant, according to the Associated Press. Griner said that during a Feb. 19 hearing regarding her arrest, she received only a “cursory translation” of the allegations made against her, according to the AP.
Griner’s trial in Russia started on July 1. On July 7, the two-time Olympic gold medalist pleaded guilty to possessing vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February. Her lawyers told PEOPLE at that time that they expect the trial to last until the beginning of August, when Griner will be sentenced.
During hearings on Tuesday, Griner’s lawyers had a narcology expert testify in an effort to explain that medical cannabis “is a popular treatment, specifically among athletes,” The New York Times reported.
“With the prescription in place, Brittney may have used it for medical, but not for recreational purposes,” said Maria Blagovolina, one of her attorneys.
Earlier this month, Griner’s lawyers told the court that the Phoenix Mercury center has a doctor’s note approving cannabis for pain treatment.
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ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Brittney Griner
“The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis. The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health,” Blagovolina said during Griner’s fourth hearing since her arrest, the Associated Press reported.
The American athlete’s defense team also submitted the results of her anti-doping tests, which showed no signs of illegal substances in her system.
Griner tested Wednesday that she had used cannabis oil for medicinal purposes in the United States to treat injuries sustained during her basketball career. One of her attorneys, Alexander Boykov, said Tuesday that the Russian public and court “has to know, that it was not used for recreational purposes in the United States. It was prescribed by a doctor,” according to the AP.
RELATED VIDEO: Brittney Griner Has Doctor’s Letter for ‘Use of Medical Cannabis’ Russian Court Told Friday
Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry told the AP that cannabis legalization for recreational and medical purposes in parts of the US does not affect what will happen with her trial in Russia.
While the country’s Foreign Ministry has suggested it could engage in a prisoner swap as her supporters make continued calls for the US government to help return Griner homeRussian officials have said those considerations would only be made after her trial conclusions, according to the Post.
On Tuesday, Griner told ABC News that she is “waiting patiently” while in custody but has “no complaints.” During the hearing, she held up a sign that included a photograph of her and her wife, Cherelle.
“Good luck on the bar exam,” Griner said in the message to Cherelle, who graduate from North Carolina Central University School of Law in May. Cherelle started the intensive, two-day exam to become a practicing lawyer Tuesday.
It remains unclear exactly how long the trial will last. A Russian court has authorized Griner’s detention to continue until Dec. 20, according to the AP.
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