Brittney Griner found support from Russian basketball figures as her trial resumed Thursday, the detained WNBA superstar’s lawyer said.
Maxim Ryabkov, the director of Griner’s Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg, and team captain Yevgenia Belyakova testified in the basketball star’s defense, Maria Blagovolina told reporters after the hearing was over, according to Reuters.
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Blagovolina said Ryabkov told the court of Griner’s “outstanding abilities as a player and personal contribution to strengthening team spirit.”
Blagovolina said the defense was pleased with how the hearing went and that another hearing was scheduled for Friday.
“It was an extremely emotional day for Brittney, who was touched by the appearance of the club director, head physician and her teammate, who gave an extremely positive description of our client both personally and professionally,” she said.
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Griner pleaded guilty to a drug charge last week. She was accused of bringing vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis through a Moscow airport in February. She has been detained ever since. The plea does not end the trial. The testimony was made in hopes of a lessened sentence. She could face up to 10 years in a Russian jail.
Last week’s guilty plea could be used as a tactic to speed up the court proceedings, so potential negotiations of a prisoner swap could take place. Russian officials have said that no swaps could take place until the trial was over.
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Griner’s detention has been authorized through Dec. 20, suggesting the trial could last months. Griner’s lawyers have said they expect things to conclude at the beginning of August.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.