Brittney Griner testified on Wednesday that she believed a translation issue may have clouded her February arrest in Russia and led to her signing documents without being properly told what she was doing.
Griner’s testimony came in the latest day of her drug trial. She was arrested earlier this year for allegedly bringing in vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis through a Moscow airport as she was returning to the country to play for her winter team overseas. Griner pleaded guilty to the charge but maintained she may have packed them inadvertently.
The Olympic gold medalist said during her testimony she made a 13-hour flight from Arizona to Moscow while recovering from coronavirus. Griner explained she doesn’t know how the cannabis oils got in her bag but explained she had a doctor’s recommendation for it and packed it in haste.
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“Translations were not very good. I remember one time seeing a stack of papers that he was supposed to transfer to me, and he looked at me in a brief moment, and his exact words were basically, ‘You’re guilty,'” Griner said.
The Phoenix Mercury center added she received neither an explanation of her rights nor access to a lawyer and was instructed to sign documents without any explanation of what they implied. Hours later, she was allowed to hand over her personal belongings to a lawyer before being led away in handcuffs.
On Tuesday, a Russian neuropsychologist testified about the use of medical marijuana to treat pain. Griner’s defense team argued the WNBA player was using the drug to help ease pain from injuries.
Griner added Wednesday she was suffering from pain caused by injuries over the course of her career and talked about the use of medical marijuana over painkillers in the U.S.
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The U.S. State Department has classified Griner as “wrongfully detained.” Griner acknowledged she had the canisters with her but had no intention of breaking the law.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday the U.S. laws legalizing cannabis in some states have no bearing on what happens in Russia.
“If a U.S. citizen was taken in connection with the fact that she was smuggling drugs, and she does not deny this, then this should be commensurate with our Russian local laws and not with those adopted in San Francisco, New York and Washington,” Zakharova said.
“You understand, if drugs are legalized in the United States – in a number of states – and this is done for a long time, and now the whole country will become drug addicted. This does not mean that all other countries are following the same path.”
Russian media has speculated that Griner could be exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is imprisoned in the U.S. Russian authorities have said that no swap could take place until Griner is sentenced.
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A Russian court has authorized Griner’s detention until Dec. 20.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.