Griner’s defense team submitted to the Russian court a letter from a US medical center issuing a permit in Arizona in 2020 for the use of medical cannabis for Griner to treat her chronic pain caused by sports injuries.
Also Friday, Griner’s trial was postponed until July 26 after her lawyers said they needed more time to prepare for next steps. Griner, 31, has pleaded guilty to drug charges, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The defense hopes the plea will be considered by the court as a mitigating factor and the sentence won’t be severe.
“Yesterday was quite an emotional day for her,” attorney Alexander Boykov told reporters outside the court after the hearing ended Friday. “She saw her general manager, her friend and teammate Evgeniya Belyakova for the first time in many months. And now she just wants to take a rest.”
“She’s tired,” attorney Maria Blagovolina added. “It was quite hard for her yesterday. But it went well.”
Elizabeth Rood, Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Moscow, said in a statement that during the past two days of hearings, “what became very clear is the tremendous amount of respect and admiration both in the United States and here in Russia where Ms. Griner has been playing basketball for seven years, not only for her professional achievements, but for her character and integrity.”
She was tested for drugs and was clean, her lawyers said previously.
Doctor’s medical report submitted as evidence
The Phoenix Mercury player said in short last week that she had no intention of carrying the cannabis oil in her luggage, saying through her interpreter that it was a result of her “packing up in a hurry,” state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Friday in court, Blagovolina read the letter from a US medical center saying, “On May 18, 2020, Brittney Griner underwent a clinical examination… The patient complained of acute chronic pain due to multiple ankle injuries, as well as injuries and pain sustained during her sports career. The patient complained of pain in the middle back, lower back, knees, and ankle pain.”
Blagovolina submitted the letter as evidence along with medical test results from 2018, and a medical report by an American doctor from 2020 confirming Griner had “a chronic debilitating disease caused by severe chronic pain.”
According to Blagovolina, the doctor advised Griner to use medical cannabis due to the diagnosis “chronic and debilitating medical condition” that “caused chronic and acute pain.”
In a written statement, Griner’s lawyers on Friday said, “The defense today provided written evidence, including character support material, medical records, and tax returns. Among the medical documents is a doctor’s prescription for the substance that, due to an oversight, Brittney Griner left among her belongings when crossing the border. Among the character support documents are numerous letters of thanks from various organizations in Yekaterinburg, as well as letters from the US Basketball Associations, UMMC Ekaterinburg and the Russian Basketball Federation.”
“She’s our sister and, at the end of the day, we are going to do whatever we can to amplify the platform that we have to make sure that everyone is doing what they need to do to make sure that she gets home safely,” Las Vegas Aces player A’ja Wilson said after the game. “It’s hard. It’s hard for all of us. It’s not easy. Not a day goes by that I’m not thinking about Brittney Griner.”
‘We miss her and her energy so much’
Ryabkov told reporters after Thursday’s hearing that he provided testimony to tell the court “what a big role she played in the success of the Ekaterinburg club and Russian women’s basketball in general with her performances in the Euroleague” and “how she raised our national rating. “
After testing, Belyakova described the detained player to reporters as “a good teammate.”
“We miss her and her energy so much,” she said. “I was very glad to see her. I hope the process ends soon and ends well.”
“(As) I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” she wrote, according to a statement released by the communications company representing the Griner family.
“On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran. It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year,” she wrote.
It was Griner’s decision to plead guilty, according to her legal team, which said in a statement that she “decided to take full responsibility for her actions as she knows that she is a role model for many people.”
Following the call with Cherelle Griner, the White House released a readout of the conversation emphasizing the President’s efforts to communicate with the families of American detainees.
“The President directed his national security team to remain in regular contact with Cherelle and Brittney’s family, and with other families of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad, to keep them updated on efforts to secure the release of their loved ones as quickly as possible ,” the White House said.
CNN’s Abby Phillip, Frederik Pleitgen, Betsy Klein, Dakine Andone, Alaa Elassar, Chris Liakos, Tara John, Rosa Flores, Jacqueline Rose, Alexa Miranda, Ben Church and Homero De la Fuente contributed to this report.