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WNBA Greener pleads guilty to her trial in Russia – thereporteronline

By JIM HEINTZ

Moscow (AP) — American basketball star Brittney Griner convicted of drug possession on the second day of a trial in a Russian court if she could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Admitted.

Sudden guilty plea by the Phoenix Mercury Center and two Olympic gold medalists gave Washington about five months after being arrested in February amid heightened tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine. It happened in the midst of growing calls for more to be done to secure it.

A senior Russian diplomat said Moscow could take no action against Grinner’s case until the trial was over. Her guilty plea may be an effort by her and her adviser to expedite the proceedings.

Greener, 31, said he was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow while returning to play basketball in Russia, and police found an arc canister with hemp oil in his luggage.

Speaking through an interpreter, Greener told the court that she rushed into Moscow and she did not intend to commit the crime and acted unintentionally. After that, the trial was postponed until July 14.

“She unintentionally committed this act by negligence,” Greener emphasized. Her lawyer, Maria Bragovolina, said outside the court of Khimki on the outskirts of Moscow after her guilty plea.

“Of course, I want the generosity of the court,” she said. “Given all the circumstances of the case, taking into account the character of our clients, we believe that the acceptance of guilt should certainly be considered.”

Blagovolina added that other lawyer witnesses would be asked in a later session.

Greener was handcuffed and taken to court, wearing a bright red T-shirt and sweatpants named “Clenshaw.” She also had a picture of her wife Cherel.

White House spokesman Karine Jean-Pierre said Grinner’s guilty plea “does not affect any of the negotiations” regarding her case.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington will continue to work for the release of Greener and other Americans detained in Moscow, including former Marine Paul Whelan.

“We will not forgive until Britney, Paul Whelan, and all other tort-detained Americans reunited with their loved ones,” he tweeted, a U.S. Embassy official said Thursday. Said he attended the trail again.

Elizabeth Ludo, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy, ​​said she spoke to Greener in court after the hearing and shared a letter from President Joe Biden with her.

“She eats a lot, can read books, and she’s doing well in that situation,” Ludo said.

“I would like to re-emphasize Mr. Greener and all U.S. citizens’ commitment to return to a safe home illegally detained and to protect and protect the interests of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. I think all US citizens were detained or imprisoned in Russia, “Mr. Ludo said.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused Grinner of being “unjustly detained” in the United States, saying “attempts by the United States to make public noise … do not help in a practical solution to the problem.” Warned.

According to the White House, Biden called Cherelle Griner on Wednesday to assure her that she was doing everything she could to win her release as soon as possible. They spoke after Biden read the letter from Greener.

Washington has not disclosed its strategy in this case, and the United States may have little influence over Moscow due to its strong hostility to action in Ukraine. Her case was placed under the supervision of a special presidential envoy on hostage issues, effectively the government’s head of hostage negotiations, after the State Department designated Greener as illegally detained.

Asked about the possibility that Grinner could be exchanged for a Russian imprisoned in the United States, Ryabkov, a senior Russian diplomat, said, “Formal or procedural reasons to talk about further steps until after her trial. No, “he said.

U.S. criticisms, including an explanation that Grinner was unfairly detained and negatively commented on Russia’s judicial system, “makes it difficult to engage in a detailed discussion of possible exchanges,” he said. Warned.

“The U.S. government has described those sentenced to imprisonment for serious criminal articles, and those awaiting the end of the investigation and court ruling, as” unfairly detained, “as Washington describes the outside world. It reflects the refusal of his calm view. Ryabkov snapped.

Greener’s trial was postponed after the start of last week because two scheduled witnesses did not appear. Such delays are common in Russian courts, and her detention has been approved until 20 December, suggesting that the proceedings may last for several months.

Greener’s supporters were initially unobtrusive, but urged Washington to soar and act after the first day of the trial on July 1.

An organization called Win With Black Women wrote to Biden that Blinken called Cherelle Griner. But we are concerned that rhetoric does not seem to match the actions taken so far. We encourage you to make a deal to get Britney back home quickly. “

Russian media have repeatedly speculated that Grinner could be exchanged for Russian weapons merchant Viktor Bout. Viktor Bout is a terrorist organization convicted of a plot to kill US citizens.

Russia has instigated the release of Bout for many years. However, a major discrepancy between Grinner’s alleged crime and the global trade in Bout’s deadly weapons could make such trade unpalatable to Washington.

Others have suggested that she could be traded with former Marines and security director Paul Weeran, who worked in Russia for 16 years, based on the belief of espionage described by the United States as a setup. did.

Wellan’s brother, David, said he didn’t have enough information to know if Grinner’s plea was good or bad news for her and his brother.

“In Russia, the conviction rate is very high, and certainly the plea could be seen as an attempt to move the process forward,” said David Welan, who said the Russian government “will not discuss the release of Ms.” Stated. Grinner until she was convicted, convicted, potentially appealing, or seeking amnesty. “

Her plea probably means that Washington and Moscow will be able to “find a solution sooner than before, but to return Brittney Griner and / or Paul Wheelan. The underlying calculation that the United States needs to find a concession that Russia accepts remains the same, “he added.

“Britney Griner was a model of today’s courage,” tweeted Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Chorus. “We deserve our compassion, understanding, love, and support,” he says. Chorus told Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, “Confirming their commitment to return BG and all Americans, respecting the sacredness of international sports, and hoping that BG will be able to return home as soon as possible. I’m out. “

The WNBA players’ union said in a statement that Grinner supported it, noting that the conviction rate in Russian courts was 99%.

“You can’t navigate it or even understand it like our own legal system,” said Terry Jackson, Executive Director of WNBAPA. “What we know is that the US State Department has determined that Brittney Griner was illegally detained for reasons. We will leave it alone.”

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Grinner “has heartfelt unconditional support for the entire WNBA and NBA family, eagerly awaiting her safe return, and the league will play BG in this weekend’s WNBA All-Star Game. I recognize you as an honorary starter. “

Russia is showing no signs of retreat.

“This is a serious crime and is confirmed by indisputable evidence …. Attempts to present the case as if the Americans were illegally detained cannot withstand,” said Alexei, a Foreign Ministry spokesman. Zaytsev said on Wednesday.

“It’s against the law and discussions about the innocent nature of Greener’s addiction, by the way, are punished in some US states, but in this case it’s inappropriate,” he said.

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Contributed by New York AP basketball writer Doug Feinberg and Washington’s Ellen Nickmeier and Sun Min Kim.

WNBA Greener pleads guilty to her trial in Russia – thereporteronline

Source link WNBA Greener pleads guilty to her trial in Russia – thereporteronline

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