WNBA's Brittney Griner arrested on drug charges in Russia UPDATE: sentenced to 9 years

millyskate

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I want to know what we can do about this. It's just wrong what they are doing to her. You know they are trying to make an example of her for something they have probably let slide in the past (or alternatively that they planted on her).
It's definitely a possibility that the oil was planted although the video of the event doesn't give off that vibe as she doesn't appear to protest the presence of the oil in her suitcase. But if it wasn't, I'm not surprised at the turn of events.
Attempting to take cannabis into Russia, regardless of its form, is no small deal.
https://exclusivehempfarms.com/blogs/legality/russia-and-cbd-what-you-need-to-know

Here's a similar case with someone anonymous back in 2019. The student only spent 2 months in jail but risked more.
 

Frau Muller

From Puerto Rico…With Love!
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June 14: Another 18 days added to her detention.
 

MacMadame

Doing all the things
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Don't read the comments. I am often dismayed by how few people in the US actually believe in "innocent until proven guilty." Since they seem to think that if the Russian government says she had hashish oil in her luggage, that it must be true.
 

barbk

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Has she voiced any defense, directly or through her legal counsel? (Perhaps that is not done in Russia until trial?) I'm unclear why folks thing we should trade her for a convicted arms dealer unless there is a belief that she was, in fact, not in possession of a drug that she is accused of having in her luggage. That is, it wasn't a drug, or it was planted rather than being hers.
 

MacMadame

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Has she voiced any defense, directly or through her legal counsel? (Perhaps that is not done in Russia until trial?) I'm unclear why folks thing we should trade her for a convicted arms dealer unless there is a belief that she was, in fact, not in possession of a drug that she is accused of having in her luggage. That is, it wasn't a drug, or it was planted rather than being hers.
Because she's a US citizen who hasn't hurt anyone and is being used as a pawn by the Russian government?
 

Sylvia

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Associated Press article (July 1):
Excerpts:
The state-owned Tass news agency quoted Griner as saying in court that she understood the charges against her. Asked by the judge if she wanted to enter a plea, Griner responded, “At this moment, no, your honor. At a later date,” according to Mediazona, an independent news site known for its extensive coverage of high-profile court cases.
Fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike in U.S. courts, acquittals can be overturned. [...]
Alexander Boykov, an attorney for Griner, said outside court that he did not want to comment “on the specifics of the case and on the charges” because it was too early to do so.
Boykov also told RIA-Novosti that she has been exercising and taking walks in the detention area. The Russian website Business FM said that Griner, who smiled at times at reporters, said she wishes she could work out more and that she was struggling because she doesn’t understand Russian. Besides the WNBA’s Mercury, she played in Russia for UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Elizabeth Rood, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, was in court and said she spoke with Griner, who “is doing as well as can be expected in these difficult circumstances.”
“The Russian Federation has wrongfully detained Brittney Griner,” Rood said. “The practice of wrongful detention is unacceptable wherever it occurs and is a threat to the safety of everyone traveling, working, and living abroad.”
She said the U.S. government, from its highest levels, “is working hard to bring Brittney and all wrongfully detained U.S. nationals home safely.”
At a closed-door preliminary hearing Monday, Griner’s detention was extended for another six months, to Dec. 20.
 

barbk

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Because she's a US citizen who hasn't hurt anyone and is being used as a pawn by the Russian government?
If someone brings drugs that are legal in Colorado to Kansas or Utah, they're subject to prosecution. If Customs catches someone with cocaine residue as they're entering the US, they can be in a world of hurt with federal or local charges. Maybe Russia would have looked the other way before the Ukraine invasion response, but does it change the fundamental question of what Griner did? If she claims that the evidence was planted, that's one thing...but having said nothing, I'd guess that the legal system needs to play out.
 

MacMadame

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If someone brings drugs that are legal in Colorado to Kansas or Utah, they're subject to prosecution.
So you believe the Russian Government? I think they are a bunch of lying liars that lie.

Also, the US government has said that she's being wrongfully detained. So do you believe the Russian government over the US government? I don't believe the Russian Government about pretty much anything so I'm not going to believe what they are doing is right and just if my own government doesn't.
 

Karen-W

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So you believe the Russian Government? I think they are a bunch of lying liars that lie.
I believe that the Russian government are a bunch of lying liars that lie, however, let's not forget that Griner was detained BEFORE the invasion. It is possible that she is guilty of having the illegal drugs in her luggage.
Also, the US government has said that she's being wrongfully detained. So do you believe the Russian government over the US government? I don't believe the Russian Government about pretty much anything so I'm not going to believe what they are doing is right and just if my own government doesn't.
Well, what else are they going to say about a high-profile WNBA star being detained in a foreign country for drugs that are legal in many US states? The US government also left this in the State Department's hands for quite a while, IIRC, and didn't transfer the negotiations over to the WH special envoy for hostage negotiations (or whatever it's called) until fairly recently.

Mind, I do think, at this point, the Russian government is not operating in good faith and it's likely that Griner will spend several years stuck in Russia.
 
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MsZem

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As this NYT article notes, Griner's experience seems to be similar to that of Naama Issachar, who was arrested while transiting through Moscow in 2019. I can believe that Griner, like Issachar, was not as cautious as she could have been given the country she was entering. That does not justify the way either woman was/is being treated.
 

barbk

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So you believe the Russian Government? I think they are a bunch of lying liars that lie.

Also, the US government has said that she's being wrongfully detained. So do you believe the Russian government over the US government? I don't believe the Russian Government about pretty much anything so I'm not going to believe what they are doing is right and just if my own government doesn't.
No, I don't trust the Russian government. I also believe US cops lie with tremendous frequency. In neither case does it mean that I believe every arrest is fraudulent.

It is also possible (and, I think, likely, given the lack of denials) that Griner did, in fact, bring contraband into Russia. Is her detainment unfair? It is certainly not what would have happened had she been arrested in the US, but Russia isn't the US.

The US also has many terrible pre-detainment jails (Rikers Island, for one). The State Department claims that her detainment is wrongful, but I haven't seen why they have said so. Do you know?
 
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barbk

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As this NYT article notes, Griner's experience seems to be similar to that of Naama Issachar, who was arrested while transiting through Moscow in 2019. I can believe that Griner, like Issachar, was not as cautious as she could have been given the country she was entering. That does not justify the way either woman was/is being treated.
"The inmates wake up, have breakfast in their cell — usually some basic food — and then go for a walk in the prison’s courtyard, which is covered by a net. The rest of the day is filled with reading books — Ms. Griner has been reading Dostoyevsky in translation, for instance — and watching television, though all of the channels are in Russian, Ms. Kalugina said.

The cell has a separate private washroom, she said, something of a novelty for Russian prisons. Inmates can order food online and use a refrigerator in the cell for groceries. They are allowed to take a shower only twice a week."


Compared to American prisons, this sounds like a remarkably good situation. (American prisons are an unsafe disgrace IMO.)

There is a lot of "so unfair" language being used with respect to her case, but there isn't usually any explanation of why it is so unfair. Possibilities include:
  • The evidence was planted and Griner is an innocent victim? Genuinely unfair in that case.
  • She did have what Russia claims she had, but she shouldn't have been arrested because that offense normally get a fine and possibly expulsion from the country? It seems that others have been subject to significant prison time after conviction for drug-related offenses long before the war with Ukraine.
  • She did have what Russia claims she had, but might get an especially harsh sentence due to the US support for Ukraine? Until there is a sentence, hard to tell.
  • She did have what Russia claims she had, but highly accomplished athletes/celebrities shouldn't be held to account for laws like that one? My tiny crying violin can't get much smaller. (Well, the Depp/Heard smuggling a dog into Australia is even less deserving of sympathy.)
 

Frau Muller

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This is not good. Acquittals are very rare in Russia - about 5% of all cases.

My understanding is that people must be found guilty and sentenced before they can be swapped…not that anyone wants her to be found guilty. Thinking ahead to a possible prisoner swap, as some have suggested.
 

Coco

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What I heard on a radio show is that:

*Russian judges are fired if they acquit too many defendants
*Public Defenders are basically co-workers with prosecutors, so you need to hire private attorneys, which BG has done
*Your best bet is to plead guilty and hope for a light sentence
*Pleading not guilty with these facts is literally accusing the government of intentional bad acts, will most likely NOT result in an acquittal and will anger the court
 

Frau Muller

From Puerto Rico…With Love!
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This is truly a horrible situation as I think the chances of her getting a fair trial are slim to none.
Oh, we know that. We can hope for a speedy and just resolution, after the guilty verdict is read (most likely).

From what my Russian in-laws tell me, Russian TV has refrained from showing her inside the cage, which is the standard procedure for placement of defendants during all trials in Russia and other former-USSR countries.
 
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MacMadame

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Oh, I thought that was just a hearing and the trial was going to be later. Not sure how I feel about the trial as I assume it will be a kangaroo court.
 

Rob

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Well she entered a guilty plea so we shall see. Negotiations on a prisoner swap generally don't begin until after the conviction/admission of fault.
 

Lacey

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So, they don't wait to possibly negotiate a punishment until just after her admittance of guilt, but moreover until after her sentencing, so how long will that take?

And will she be let off, or will she be traded for a Russian person imprisoned in the US?
 

Frau Muller

From Puerto Rico…With Love!
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This case is quiet no more. The genteel diplomatic route was Plan A; it’s time for a louder Plan B, led by celebs like the Rev. Al Sharpton:


In the last couple of days, this has exploded in US mainstream news. Hope it works.
 

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