Russia on Tuesday has resumed the trial of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner on drug charges. The trial has been resumed amid intensified diplomatic efforts by Washington to secure her release via a high-profile prisoner exchange.
Griner, aged around 31 years old faces up to 10 years in Russian penal colony if convicted of smuggling cannabis vape cartridges into the nation. The two-time Olympic champion said to the court last week she did not intend to smuggle drugs into Russia, while her defense lawyers presented doctors’ notes authorizing her to use medical marijuana, which is illegal in Russia.
A court in the town of Khimki north of Moscow continued hearings Tuesday, one month after the beginning of the trial.
The President of the United States, Joe Biden’s administration has breached its own policy of secrecy when it floated a proposal to exchange Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence on espionage charges. Several reports have made a suggestion the swap could include convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by phone for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, urging him to accept the prisoner swap. Lavrov called for “quiet diplomacy without any dubious media leaks” after the call.