Basketball star Greiner says he inadvertently brought cannabis to Russia


American basketball player Britney Greiner arrives for trial on July 27, 2022 in Khimki, near Moscow, where she is being tried after being arrested at Moscow airport in February for possession of cannabis-based vaping liquid (AFP/Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

Basketball star Britney Greiner testified Wednesday in her experience that she inadvertently brought medicinal cannabis to Russia and never intended to smuggle drugs.

Considered one of the best in the world, this 2.06-meter-tall player has played during the holiday season for a club in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals.

She was arrested upon arrival at Moscow airport in February with cannabis fumigation that she said had been prescribed to her by a doctor.

For drug smuggling, Britney Greiner faces 10 years in prison.

This trial is heavily tainted by geopolitics as tensions between Moscow and Washington have come to a head with the conflict in Ukraine. Many observers suspect that Russia is exploiting the issue for a future prisoner exchange with the United States.

Wearing a black Phoenix jacket – her hometown in the US – the player showed off photos of her relatives and wife on Wednesday before the hearing at the Khimki court near Moscow where the trial is taking place. Since early July.

“I had no idea and did not plan to bring banned substances into Russia,” the double Olympic champion said from the cage designated for the defendants, an AFP journalist reported on the spot.

She explained that she uses medical cannabis legally in the United States, by prescription and only on her days off, out of competition, to relieve the multiple “pains” related to her intense basketball practice.

American basketball player Brittney Greiner, during her trial on July 27, 2022 in Khimki, near Moscow, where she is on trial after being arrested at Moscow airport in February for possession of cannabis-based vaping liquid (POOL/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

American basketball player Brittney Greiner, during her trial on July 27, 2022 in Khimki, near Moscow, where she is on trial after being arrested at Moscow airport in February for possession of cannabis-based vaping liquid (POOL/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

She explained, “This is because of all the injuries I’ve had during this long period of playing basketball – it extends from my back to my cartilage. I was in a wheelchair for 4 months and I sprained my ankle.”

– ‘You’re guilty’ –

The American player claimed that he inadvertently took cannabis cartridges with her before leaving for Russia.

“I still don’t understand how it ended up in my bag. I had no intention of breaking Russian law… If I had to speculate how it ended up in my bag, I would say it was because I was in a rush to do my work.”

“She simply forgot to recheck her things,” said one of her lawyers, Alexander Boylov, while the defense alleges she may have suffered from amnesia because she had just suffered from a violent Covid illness.

Britney Grenier also claimed that she did not follow the recommendations of the US authorities not to go to Russia at this time, because she did not want to “let down” her colleagues in Russia.

American basketball player Brittney Greiner, during her trial on July 27, 2022 in Khimki, near Moscow, where she is on trial after being arrested at Moscow airport in February for possession of cannabis-based vaping liquid (POOL/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

American basketball player Brittney Greiner, during her trial on July 27, 2022 in Khimki, near Moscow, where she is on trial after being arrested at Moscow airport in February for possession of cannabis-based vaping liquid (POOL/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Many players go to play with clubs abroad during the breaks in the American season, attracting them with much higher salaries than in the United States.

The basketball player also returned to her conditions of detention after her arrest at the airport. She claims that she was held for long hours without a phone and without an interpreter, before she was finally able to notify her lawyer, her employer and her relatives.

She noted, “In my seven years of traveling to Asia and Russia, I haven’t seen a huge number of people working (at this airport) on this day.”

Over the next few days, she says, she was taken to court, where she was asked to sign documents that “were not well translated.” “In general, this means that you are guilty,” a Russian interpreter told her.

US President Joe Biden has made his release a “priority” after he was accused of not doing enough on the issue.

After Wednesday’s hearing, the representative of the US Embassy in Russia, Elizabeth Rudd, said she was able to speak with the hero and assured that Washington would continue to follow the case closely. The next session is scheduled for August 2.

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