Brittney Griner Cites Lack of Translation in Interrogation

She says that much of what was said during her interrogation wasn't translated for her
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 27, 2022 10:30 AM CDT
Brittney Griner Testifies for First Time in Her Case
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner sits in a cage at a court room prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 27, 2022.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

American basketball star Brittney Griner was back in a Russian court on Wednesday, where she appeared as a witness in her case for the first time. Griner testified about her experience of being arrested at a Moscow airport on Feb. 17 after vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage. Griner told the court that when she was questioned, a language interpreter translated only a fraction of what was said and that officials instructed her to sign documents without providing an explanation of what those documents implied.

Griner added that she received neither an explanation of her rights nor access to a lawyer, reports the AP. She said she received only a cursory translation of the allegations during a Feb. 19 hearing where a court sanctioned her arrest. During her testimony, the Phoenix Mercury standout described making a grueling 13-hour flight to Moscow from Arizona while recovering from COVID-19. Griner said she still does not know how the cannabis oil ended up in her bag but explained she had a doctor’s recommendation for it and had packed in haste.

Griner faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of transporting drugs. Her trial started July 1, and her lawyers expect a verdict in August; she has pleaded guilty but maintains it was a mistake. The New York Times reports that some of the guards who escorted Griner into court were clad in bulletproof vests and balaclavas over their faces; the paper notes "the tense atmosphere at the courthouse reflected the fraught geopolitical moment." (More Brittney Griner stories.)

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