Nearly a month into her criminal trial, Brittney Griner testified in Russian court for the first time on Wednesday. The WNBA star said she “takes responsibility” for her actions but explained she was not provided with proper translation or information on the day of her arrest.
Griner recounted how she had to use a translation app on her phone to communicate with a customs officer while she was being detained at a Moscow airport on Feb. 17. She was allegedly carrying the marijuana concentrate hashish oil in her luggage.
During her arrest, Griner was asked to sign papers, but at that point she did not know what she was signing and assumed they were about her luggage search and the cartridges found. There was an interpreter present, but Griner said the woman did not explain the content of the paper work.
“No, my rights were never read to me,” Griner told the court. “Nobody explained anything to me.”
Griner recalled being unsure of what was going on and asking several times if she could leave or what the next step of the process was going to be. However, she said the response was simply, “wait, wait for the results.” At some point, she asked to go to the bathroom and had to wait to be escorted.
According to CBS News, Griner also recounted packing in a rush and then making a 13-hour flight to Moscow from Arizona while she was recovering from COVID-19. Her defense team made the point of saying some people suffer from memory issues while recovering from what is still a relatively new disease.
On Tuesday, the focus of Griner’s defense team was explaining to the court how cannabis, which is illegal in Russia, has a recognized medicinal use worldwide. Griner did have a doctor’s prescription, but on Wednesday the seven-time WNBA All-Star said she was well aware that bringing hashish oil to Russia is against the law. She and her team reiterated that it ended in her luggage on accident and that she never had any criminal intent.
Wednesday was perhaps one of the most noteworthy days of Griner’s detainment. Along with Griner’s testimony, CNN reported the United States has offered to exchange convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout as part of a prison swap to release Griner and corporate security director Paul Whelan.
For a full explainer on Griner’s situation, click here.