Russian prosecutor in Brittney Griner case asks for 9-and-a-half 12 months sentence

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A Russian prosecutor on Thursday requested a decide to condemn WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner to nine-and-a-half years in jail for drug expenses, and the protection workforce in her trial mentioned the decide was anticipated handy down her sentence by night.

In looking for near the 10-year most, the state’s request ignored the athlete’s plea of leniency. Griner pleaded responsible in July to carrying vape cartridges with hashish oil into the nation.

The prosecutor’s name for a troublesome sentence for Griner — in addition to a high-quality of 1 million rubles ($16,590) — got here amid calls from the USA for Russia to noticeably weigh its supply on a prisoner change to carry her house.

A member of Griner’s authorized workforce, Alexander Boikov, instructed the decide that Griner deserved to be acquitted regardless of her responsible plea, saying the prosecution had didn’t show felony intent. As well as, he mentioned, her rights have been breached throughout the investigation and authorized course of.

“We know that in Russia the laws regarding drugs are very strict,” Boikov mentioned, “but Russia also cares about its prestige in sports.” Griner’s profession, and her play for the UMMC Ekaterinburg workforce throughout the WNBA offseason, has been a celebration of friendship between individuals, he continued. “She had many offers, but she for some reason chose cold Yekaterinburg, knowing how warmly she would be received there.”

The prosecution contends that the 0.702 grams of cannabis found in the Griner’s luggage after she landed at Sheremetyevo International Airport in February was a “significant amount.” Griner testified final week that she was in a rush when she packed, had no concept the objects have been in her baggage and didn’t intend to interrupt Russian regulation.

The Phoenix Mercury star testified that she uses cannabis oil in the United States for treatment of chronic pain from injuries but knew that carrying cannabis into Russia was illegal. She said she flew to Russia despite U.S. State Department warnings about such travel because she did not want to let her Russian team down.

The Biden administration is feeling massive public pressure to secure her release, a behind-the-scenes negotiation greatly complicated by the collapse of relations between Washington and Moscow because of the Ukraine war.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov late last week, urging him to accept a deal involving Griner and former security consultant Paul Whelan, an American who is serving a 16-year prison term in Russia. Whelan, who was arrested in 2018 and convicted of spying in 2020, says he was framed.

Blinken, Lavrov discussed potential prisoner exchange for Griner, Whelan

The United States has declined to say whether the pair would be swapped for Russian Viktor Bout, an arms trafficker who was arrested in a U.S. sting operation in Thailand in 2008.

The administration’s announcement of its proposed deal appears to be an effort to curb criticisms of its handling of the Griner case. But the Kremlin has told Washington to refrain from “megaphone diplomacy,” with Russian Foreign Ministry officials repeatedly warning that public calls will not help her cause.

John Kirby, spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, said Tuesday that the administration was not going to negotiate in public.

“We’ve made a serious proposal, made a serious offer,” Kirby mentioned. “And we urge the Russians to take that provide as a result of it was carried out with sincerity, and we all know we will again it up.”

In previous years, the USA has resisted Russian pressures to change Bout given the seriousness of his offenses. He was convicted in New York in 2011 and later sentenced to 25 years in jail for conspiracy to promote surface-to-air missiles, AK-47s and explosives to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, figuring out that they deliberate to shoot down U.S. helicopters.

A deal to carry Bout house can be a significant political victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin, signaling to his home viewers that regardless of unprecedented Western criticisms and sanctions, he nonetheless has the clout to power the White Home to barter with him.

Bloomberg has reported that as a part of an change, Moscow could search the discharge of a rich Russian businessman near the Kremlin, Vladislav Klyushin, who pleaded not responsible in a Boston courtroom in January over an alleged $82 million insider buying and selling rip-off. Klyushin claimed the case in opposition to him was “politically motivated” due to his ties to the Russian authorities.

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