Brittney Griner testifies to the treatment Russian authorities received during her initial detention

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Topline

American basketball star Brittney Griner spoke for the first time on Wednesday during her ongoing Russian drug trafficking trial, testifying that authorities failed to give her a proper explanation of what was happening during her arrest in February.

Highlights

Griner said she was not read about her rights when she was first detained in February, according to Reuters and The Associated Press.

The American said a translator provided to her only translated a small portion of what she was told by authorities, AP reports.

Griner said she was also not given a lawyer and was told to sign papers without knowing what they said, according to AP.

Key Context

Griner’s testimony raises questions about whether Griner was targeted by Russian authorities as a prominent American. The State Department considers Griner wrongfully detained amid strained diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges on July 7 and faces a prison term of up to 10 years. Russian authorities arrested Griner after discovering cannabis vape cartridges in his luggage. Griner’s lawyers argued that Griner had no intention of breaking the law, presenting evidence of his approval for the use of medical cannabis in the United States. Any use of marijuana is illegal in Russia.

Tangent

Griner wore a black Phoenix Mercury t-shirt on Wednesday, representing his WNBA team. She held up three photos in a cage inside the courtroom before giving her testimony, including a photo of his wife Cherelle Griner who graduated from law school this spring and images of her friends and teammates.

Further reading

Brittney Griner had a doctor’s note for cannabis use, say lawyers in Russian court (Forbes)

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