Closing arguments in the trial began on Thursday amid fears it could be used as a political tool in the country’s war on Ukraine.
Greiner arrived at court handcuffed and escorted by Russian officers to the defendant’s cage. Once she wasn’t tied down, she spoke with her legal team and then uploaded a photo of the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team, the Russian team she played with during the WNBA offseason.
The defense also attempted to undermine the prosecution’s case. On Tuesday, at the seventh hearing of her case, a defense expert testified that an examination of the substance in Griner’s electronic cartridges did not comply with Russian law.
“The examination does not comply with the law in terms of the completeness of the study and does not comply with the rules of the Code of Criminal Procedure,” forensic chemist Dmitry Gladyshev testified during the session, which lasted about two hours.
Griner’s attorney, Maria Blagovolina, of Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin & Partners, Griner’s attorney, told CNN that her team’s experts have identified “some flaws” in the machines used to measure the material.
At the trial, Greiner testified that she had a prescription for medical cannabis and had no intention of bringing the drug to Russia. After she was detained in February, she was checked for drugs and was clean, her lawyers had previously said.
“She’s still focused, she’s still nervous. She still knows the end is near, and of course she’s heard the news, so she’s hoping to come home sometime, and hopefully too,” Blagovolina said on Tuesday. She added that the verdict in the case will be issued “very soon”, possibly Thursday.
Elizabeth Rudd, charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Russia, arrived in court on Thursday ahead of the hearing. She appeared in court throughout the trial and said Tuesday that the United States will “continue to support Ms. Greiner in every step of this process and as long as it takes to bring her home to the United States safely.”
How did the trial go?
Griner’s lawyers have already made some arguments alleging that the basketball player’s detention was not handled properly after employees stopped her at Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17.
One of her lawyers, Alexander Boykov, said last week that her arrest, search and arrest was “inappropriate”, noting that more details would be revealed during closing arguments.
Greiner testified that there was no lawyer, and her rights were not explained to her. These rights include access to a lawyer once she is in custody and the right to know what is suspected. Under Russian law, she must have been informed of her rights within three hours of her arrest.
“She made it clear to the court that she knew and respected Russian laws and had no intention of violating them,” Blagovolina said in her testimony.
“We still insist that she, recklessly and quickly, packed her suitcase and did not pay attention to the fact that items permitted for use in the United States ended up in this suitcase and made it to the Russian Federation,” Boykov, of the Moscow Law Center, said.
The trial began against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s conflict with the United States and Europe.
The Kremlin also warned on Tuesday that US “megaphone diplomacy” would not help in prisoner exchange negotiations with Grenier. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow believed these talks should be “secret”.
The Griner family, supporters, and fellow WNBA members continued to express messages of solidarity and hope as they await the conclusion of the trial. Her WNBA team, Phoenix Mercury, is expected to play the Connecticut Sun game Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET.
Elizabeth Wolff, Travis Caldwell, Dakin Andoni, Kylie Atwood, Evan Perez, Jennifer Hansler, Natasha Bertrand, Frederic Blitgen, Chris Liakos, and Zohra God contributed to this report.