Brittney Griner Trial to End 'Very Soon' as Defense Claims Vape Examination Violated Russian Law

Initially anticipated to continue for weeks, or even months, Brittney Griner’s high-profile drug possession trial is expected to come to a close in Russia “very soon,” the WNBA star’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina told Reuters. Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday, with a sentencing decision following sometime this month.

Appearing in court on Tuesday for the seventh hearing of the trial, a defense expert testified that the examination of the vape cartridges containing cannabis oil discovered in Griner’s luggage at a Moscow-area airport in February violated standard Russian law.

During the nearly two-hour session, forensic chemist Dmitry Gladyshev testified for the defense, explaining: “The examination does not comply with the law in terms of the completeness of the study and does not comply with the norms of the Code of Criminal Procedure.”

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Following the hearing, Blagovolina pointed to one violation of note, stating that the examination results failed to show the exact amount of THC in the substances found in the cartridges. Russian prosecutors accused the WNBA player of possessing less than one gram of cannabis oil in her luggage as she arrived in Russia to join UMMC Ekaterinburg for the playoffs.

Griner pleaded guilty to the drug smuggling charges but insisted the cartridges were packed by accident and “there was no intent” to break the law.

If convicted, Griner could spend up to 10 years in prison. Amid the endless string of hearings, the State Department offered Russia a prisoner swap deal that would secure the release of both Griner and Paul Whelan, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former security executive who the U.S. government claims was “wrongly detained” on an espionage conviction.

“We still believe that any exchanges of information on this topic should be discreet,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters. “Megaphone diplomacy and the public exchange of opinions will not lead to results.”

Russian officials have previously stated that a possible prisoner exchange would only occur after a verdict is determined in the Griner trial. However, a source close to the matter revealed to The New York Times that the U.S. was willing to trade convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for the Griner and Whelan.

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