Her destiny is caught up in the diplomatic disaster between Washington and Moscow over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, and her supporters are hoping the 2 international locations will attain a deal on a prisoner trade involving Griner. Her trial has seen uncommon secrecy, with journalists allowed solely restricted entry and absolutely barred from the proceedings on Thursday.
The athlete’s lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, a accomplice with the agency Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin & Partners, stated she won’t be testifying Friday. More witnesses for Griner might be referred to as as a substitute, Blagovolina stated.
Friday’s listening to would be the fourth day in a trial that her protection workforce expects will contain as much as 5 hearings. Her sentencing date is unknown, however Russian officers have said that no discussions on a prisoner trade will happen earlier than the trial concludes.
The U.S. State Department says Griner has been wrongfully detained, with the White House describing the circumstances of that detention as “intolerable.”
The outcry over her arrest has eclipsed the U.S. public’s concern over Paul Whelan, a Marine veteran and safety marketing consultant serving a 16-year sentence after being convicted of espionage in a closed trial in 2020. He says he was framed.
Given Griner’s fame as a Phoenix Mercury middle and entreaties for the Biden administration to safe her launch, Russia has made essentially the most of its leverage, repeatedly warning that public strain won’t assist her trigger. On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharov urged U.S. authorities “not to exploit this sensitive matter affecting the fates of certain individuals, and we advise them to abandon futile attempts to pressure us.”
Washington, she stated, ought to “work through established channels. It simply won’t work any other way.”
There is rising hypothesis about a doable swap involving Griner and Russian arms vendor Viktor Bout, who’s serving 25 years in the United States for conspiring to promote arms to a international terrorist group and conspiring to kill U.S. residents. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stated his high precedence is to safe the discharge of Griner, Whelan and different Americans he stated are wrongly imprisoned abroad.
Griner not too long ago wrote to Biden begging him to not overlook her and different detainees, saying, “I’m terrified I might be here forever.” Biden wrote again in a letter that U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Elizabeth Rood was capable of hand her final week.
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