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Russian Basketball Team Testifies in Support of Brittney Griner During Trial: ‘The Heart of Our Team

Russian Basketball Team Testifies in Support of Brittney Griner During Trial: 'The Heart of Our Team'

Britney Griner‘s most recent appearance in a Russian court again ended without a verdict.

The detained WNBA star, 31, appeared for a third hearing Thursday outside Moscow, after she pleaded guilty to smuggling drugs into Russia a week earlier.

All'udienza, members of of the professional Russian basketball team Griner plays for, UMMC Yekaterinburg, spoke highly of Griner’s contributions, secondo Il New York Times. The director of the team testified to Griner’soutstanding abilities as a player and personal contribution to the strengthening [di] the team’s spirit,” the basketball star’s lawyer told the Volte.

In addition to team director Maksim Ryabkov, a team doctor and the team’s captain, Evgeniya Belyakova, also testified Thursday, with Belyakova telling the court that Griner isthe heart of our team,” secondo NPR’s Charles Maynes.

Griner did not testify at Thurday’s hearing, quale “did not touch at all,” on Griner’s guilty plea aside from questions posed to the defense’s witnesses about any possible past drug use by the two-time Olympic medalist and seven-time WNBA All-Star, secondo National Public Radio, Radio Pubblica. The witnesses all testified that any prior drug use by Griner would beimpossibledue to her playing schedule and drug testing.

A fourth hearing in Griner’s trial has been scheduled for Friday, secondo CNN. Di giovedì, a Kremlin spokesperson declined to discuss the possibility of a prisoner exchange with the U.S. government that could send Griner home. A spokeswoman with the Russian Foreign Ministry also said that any negotiations concerning Griner could only prove productive after a verdict in her case has been reached, secondo il Volte.

Phoenix Mercury Brittney Griner (C) is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki City Court, fuori Mosca, Russia, 14 luglio 2022.

Phoenix Mercury Brittney Griner (C) is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki City Court, fuori Mosca, Russia, 14 luglio 2022.
Credito: YURI KOCHETKOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

La settimana scorsa, Griner pleaded guilty to bringing cannabis products into Russia — where it is considered illegal — but said that she was packing quickly and did not mean to break the law, saying she did soinadvertently.

Al tempo, Griner’s legal team, Maria Blagovolina from Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Alexander Boykov from Moscow Legal Center, shared a statement with PEOPLE that said her guilty plea “è stata la sua decisione informata dalla discussione con il suo team di difesa legale in Russia.”

Brittney sets an example of being brave. She decided to take full responsibility for her actions as she knows that she is a role model for many people,” la dichiarazione ha continuato.

Her lawyers said that because of “la natura del suo caso, la quantità insignificante della sostanza e la personalità e la storia di BG di contributi positivi allo sport globale e russo,” they hoped that her plea will help the athlete avoid asevere sentence.

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Griner affronta 10 anni di prigione. Despite her guilty plea, Griner’s trial is expected to continue until sentencing at the beginning of next month, her legal team told PEOPLE.

Griner was arrested February 17 at the Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow on allegations that she was in possession of vape cartridges containing hash oil while traveling through the airport. She was put into a Russian detention center where she has been held for more than four and a half months.

VIDEO CORRELATO: Brittney Griner si dichiara colpevole delle accuse di droga russe: 'Non volevo infrangere la legge’

The Phoenix Mercury player first appeared in court for the start of her trial on July 1, when the Russian court accused her of moving asignificant amountof cannabis oil through the country.

A maggio, gli Stati Uniti. State Department classified Griner’s arrest as wrongful detainment.

The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner,” a State Department spokesperson detto in una dichiarazione ottenuta da PERSONE. “Gli Stati Uniti. Government will continue to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner and her family.

Griner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, was put front-and-center last weekend during the league’s All-Star Weekend events. The WNBA named Griner an honorary All-Star and displayed her name and number, 42, on the court at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. All of the athletes who played in Sunday’s All-Star game wore Griner’s jersey for the second half of the exhibition.