Wednesday, February 21

WMBA star Brittney Griner trial resumes in Russia



All members of the media were allowed into the courthouse on Friday, the first time they have been allowed to do so since the trial began.

The hearing was adjourned to July 26, after the defense requested more time to prepare for Griner’s interrogation.

The US was committed to bringing Griner home, Elizabeth Rood, the Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Moscow said in a statement outside the courthouse following the hearing.

“It became clear in the past few days that there’s a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Brittney’s character and integrity both in Russia and in the US,” Rood said.

“And we reaffirm our commitment to bring Brittney back home and all the American citizens detained abroad,” she added.

Boykov also told the media that his client was tired.

He added that she had seen some of her teammates at Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company — the Russian basketball club Griner played with during the WNBA offseason — for the first time in months at the hearing on Thursday.

Maxim Ryabkov, the director of UMMC, described Griner as “an outstanding player” and a responsible person when he testified Thursday.

Her UMMC teammate Evgenia Belyakova also testified, saying Griner was “a true leader” and role model. Belyakova said Griner’s contribution to Russian basketball was “invaluable.”

“We miss her very much. We miss her energy, ”Belyakova said, speaking to reporters outside court.

Calls for Griner’s release have intensified in recent weeks. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden reassured his wife, Cherelle Griner, that he was working to secure Brittney Griner’s release from her as fast as possible.

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The Kremlin declined to comment Thursday on speculation over whether Griner could be swapped for a convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the US, Reuters reported.

But Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow was ready to work with the US on a possible exchange and urged Washington to abandon attempts to exert pressure on Russia and not speculate on this “sensitive matter,” according to the Interfax news agency.

Griner’s case has drawn comparisons to Naama Issachar, an American-Israeli woman detained in Russia for 10 months after airport authorities found a small amount of cannabis in her luggage.

Isaachar secured a pardon in 2020 from President Vladimir Putin as geopolitical tensions escalated between Putin and then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Her fate de ella became tied to an unrelated case involving an Israeli Supreme Court decision to extradite an alleged Russian hacker to the US

Tatyana Chistikova reported from Moscow, Alicia Victoria Lozano from Los Angeles and Rhoda Kwan from Taipei.


www.nbcnews.com

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