The basketball participant was escorted right into a cramped court docket on the outskirts of Moscow by a crew of masked SWAT police, underscoring how severely Russian regulation enforcement views her case.
Final week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned Washington had made a “substantial proposal” to Moscow for a prisoner trade involving Griner and Whelan, who’s serving a 16-year sentence after being convicted on spy fees. He says he was framed.
Russian officers mentioned Thursday that no deal had been reached. The International Ministry has accused the US of making an attempt to make use of public strain to safe Griner’s launch, warning that it’ll not assist her trigger. Russian officers have hinted there could also be willingness to barter a prisoner trade, however solely after her trial is full.
Griner earlier pleaded responsible to carrying two vape cartridges containing hashish oil into the nation in mid-February. She was arrested at a time when relations between Washington and Moscow have been strained, with President Vladimir Putin making ready to invade Ukraine.
Her attorneys made their case for leniency final week, arguing that she didn’t intend to interrupt Russian regulation. Griner testified that she had packed in a rush and didn’t understand how the vape cartridges ended up in her baggage. The basketball star mentioned she used hashish to alleviate persistent ache from accidents. She mentioned regulation enforcement officers didn’t learn her authorized rights to her earlier than the arrest.
President Biden and Putin opened a channel for negotiations on prisoner exchanges after they met final 12 months, in response to Russia’s International Ministry. Former Marine Trevor Reed, convicted of assaulting police, was exchanged in April for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was serving a 20-year sentence in the US for drug smuggling.
U.S. and Russian officers haven’t confirmed media experiences that Washington supplied to trade arms vendor Viktor Bout, 55, dubbed the “service provider of dying,” for Griner and Whelan. Russia has sought Bout’s launch for years, calling his imprisonment “illegal.” He’s serving a 25-year sentence in Illinois for conspiring to kill U.S. nationals and promoting weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
One other American, schoolteacher Marc Fogel, 61, who like Griner was arrested on drug fees after bringing hashish into the nation for remedy of persistent ache, is serving a 14-year sentence in a Russian high-security jail.
Fogel has not been categorised by the U.S. State Division as wrongfully detained, that means he’s excluded from negotiations on any trade. He introduced 17 grams of hashish into the nation, whereas Griner pleaded responsible to importing 0.702 grams. Like Griner, he pleaded responsible, hoping for leniency.
Each have been detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Worldwide Airport, and Fogel’s trial came about on the similar Khimki court docket on the sting of Moscow, the place Griner’s trial reconvened Tuesday.
Fogel’s spouse, Jane Fogel, informed The Washington Publish final week that she hoped her husband may very well be included in any prisoner swap however nervous he can be forgotten.
“There’s a sinking feeling within the pit of my abdomen that Marc will probably be left behind,” Jane Fogel mentioned. Considered one of his sisters, Anne Fogel, referred to as the 14-year jail time period an efficient dying sentence in feedback to CNN.
The State Division has not commented on Fogel’s case or why he’s not categorised as wrongfully detained.
In 2019, Israeli American Naama Issachar was sentenced to seven years in jail after practically 10 grams of hashish was present in her backpack throughout a layover in Moscow as she flew from India to Israel. She was freed when she was Putin pardoned her, after he met her mom, Yaffa Issachar, throughout a January 2020 journey to Israel marking the seventy fifth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.