Brittney Griner’s Defense Team Makes Final Push, Sentencing Expected ‘Very Soon’

by Bryan Fyalkowski

On Tuesday, Brittney Griner made her final appearance in court before closing statements are set to take place on Thursday in Khimki, Russia. One of the main points her lawyers wanted to argue before then was the original analysis of the vaporizer cartridges.

According to Forbes, the defense team produced an expert witness in front of the court who reportedly testified that the cannabis tests carried out on Griner’s vape cartridges by Russian officials did not meet legal requirements. Per the Associated Press, the process was flawed and did not conform to official rules.

Other witnesses who took the stand on behalf of Griner. They included one of her Russian teammates, Yevgeniya Belyakova, along with the team’s director and doctor.

Following Tuesday’s session, one of Griner’s lawyers – Maria Blagovolina – said that the sentencing was expected “very soon.”

The 31-year-old currently faces up to 10 years in prison under the charge of “large-scale transportation of drugs.” She was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17 with the vaporizer cartridges in her luggage.

Russia Remains Undecided on Prisoner Swap with Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner has now been in captivity for more than five months. But it was reported last week that the U.S. is willing to send Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for her and Paul Whelan. Griner has been imprisoned since February 17, while Whelan has been behind bars in Russia since 2018.

But at this point in time, Russia has not agreed to the deal. According to Reuters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “So far there are no agreements in this area … Normally, the public learns about it when the agreements are already implemented.”

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that he planned to participate in a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pertaining to the matter. Lavrov responded, saying no discussions were ongoing through his office. However, regarding Blinken’s statements, the Foreign Minister claimed, “I will listen to what he has to say.”

In the meantime, Maria Blagovolina – one of Griner’s lawyers – mentioned that her trial has to come to a close before any exchange is made.