WNBA star Brittney Griner testified in a Russian courtroom on Wednesday that a language interpreter provided during her questioning translated only a portion of what was actually said and officials instructed her to sign documents without providing an explanation.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17 after the Russian Federal Customs Service claimed to have found vape cartridges containing the marijuana concentrate hashish oil in her luggage. She faces up to ten years in prison if convicted of transporting drugs. The Biden administration has classified Griner as “wrongfully detained.”
According to the Associated Press, during her testimony, Griner described making a grueling thirteen-hour flight to Moscow from Arizona while recovering from Covid. She said that she still does not know how the cannabis oil for which she had a doctor's prescription ended up in her bag, explaining that she had packed in haste while under great stress.
“I still don't understand to this day how they ended up in my bags,” Griner said, per CNN.
Griner also testified that she has been suffering from pain from injuries sustained during her basketball career, emphasizing that cannabis oil is widely used in the United States for medicinal purposes and lacks the negative side effects common with other painkillers.
CNN reported that during the hearing on Tuesday, a narcologist called by Griner’s attorneys as an expert witness testified that “medical cannabis is a popular treatment specifically among athletes” outside of Russia. Alexander Boykov, one of Griner’s lawyers, asserted that the defense’s position is not that Griner was “allowed to import" banned substances into the country, but they aimed to prove to the court that “even in the United States, where it is allowed, she used these substances occasionally as prescribed by a doctor, strictly for medical purposes to relieve pain.”
“We continue to insist that, by indiscretion, in a hurry, she packed her suitcase and did not pay attention to the fact that substances allowed for use in the United States ended up in this suitcase and arrived in the Russian Federation,” Boykov continued.
Meanwhile, Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine freed from a Russian prison in April, contended that the White House is “not doing enough” to bring Griner and Paul Whelan, another American who is detained in the country, home.
“I can't say 100 percent what the White House is or is not doing—that's obviously not public information,” Reed said during a Tuesday interview on Hallie Jackson NOW, per NBC News.
“But, in my opinion, the White House has the ability to get them out extremely fast, and they clearly have chosen not to do that. So no, in my opinion, they’re not doing enough,” he continued.
Reed later added that he was “extremely grateful” that the Biden administration made the decision to secure his release out of Russia.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.