Prosecution Asks Russian Court to Sentence Brittney Griner to Nearly 10 Years in Prison

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Prosecution Asks Russian Court to Sentence Brittney Griner to Nearly 10 Years in Prison
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Russian prosecutors have asked the court to sentence Brittney Griner to more than nine-and-a-half years in prison as the WNBA star's drug possession trial in a Russian court wraps up.

On Thursday, the prosecution and defense made their closing arguments in 31-year-old Griner's trial, according to the Associated Press.

A verdict in the trial and sentencing are expected Thursday evening, Griner's lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, told the The New York Times on Thursday, after previously saying they expected the trial to end later in August.

In addition to the nine-year, six-month sentencing, the prosecution has also asked that Griner is fined 1 million rubles, which roughly equals $16,600, according to the Times. On Wednesday, another one of Griner's lawyers, Aleksandr Boikov, told the Times that Griner would have an opportunity to make a final statement before her verdict is read on Thursday.

RELATED: A Timeline of Brittney Griner's Detainment in Russia

The trial, which started on July 1 and has continued on after Griner pleaded guilty to bringing cannabis oil into Russia, has seen Griner and her defense team argue that the Phoenix Mercury star inadvertently brought the product to Russia and that she had used the product medicinally in the United States.

During Tuesday's hearing — the seventh in Griner's trial — Griner's lawyers called in a forensic chemist who testified that the arresting officers did not properly examine the cannabis oil in her possession in accordance with Russian law, according to CNN. Blagovolina also said after the hearing ended that the examination's results were incomplete, and did not show the amount of THC in the product.

US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner (C), who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, shakes hands with her lawyer Alexander Boykov (R) next to Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Moscow Elizabeth Rood (L) before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. - Lawyers for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is standing trial in Russia on drug charges, said on July 26, 2022 they hoped she would receive a "lenient" sentence.
US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner (C), who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, shakes hands with her lawyer Alexander Boykov (R) next to Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Moscow Elizabeth Rood (L) before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. - Lawyers for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is standing trial in Russia on drug charges, said on July 26, 2022 they hoped she would receive a "lenient" sentence.

EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Brittney Griner shakes hands with her lawyer Alexander Boykov

Griner's hearings have included testimony from members of the Russian pro basketball team she plays for in the offseason, UMMC Yekaterinburg, in which they spoke highly of Griner's contributions. The director of the team, Maksim Ryabkov, testified to Griner's "outstanding abilities as a player and personal contribution to the strengthening [of] the team's spirit," the basketball star's lawyer said.

Griner also testified in another hearing that Russian officials did not read any rights to her when she was arrested at the Moscow airport for possession of cannabis oil in February, according to The Washington Post.

US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, holds a picture of her team as she stands inside a defendants' cage before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. - Lawyers for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is standing trial in Russia on drug charges, said on July 26, 2022 they hoped she would receive a "lenient" sentence.
US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, holds a picture of her team as she stands inside a defendants' cage before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. - Lawyers for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is standing trial in Russia on drug charges, said on July 26, 2022 they hoped she would receive a "lenient" sentence.

EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Brittney Griner holds up a photo of her teammates while in court

While Griner said a translator at the airport told her where to go, nobody explained to her what was happening, and she described the general translation services offered to her during her months-long detainment in Russia as "inadequate."

"I remember one time there was a stack of papers that [the translator] needed to translate for me. He took a brief look and then said the exact words were, 'Basically you are guilty,' " Griner testified.

Griner was originally detained and arrested on Feb. 17 at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport after a customs dog indicated there were drugs in the player's carry-on bag.

While the star athlete awaits a verdict in her trial, the Biden administration is still working on a striking a deal with Russian officials to bring Griner and Paul Whelan, another American imprisoned in the country, home.

US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on August 4, 2022. - Lawyers for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is standing trial in Russia on drug charges, said on July 26, 2022 they hoped she would receive a "lenient" sentence.
US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on August 4, 2022. - Lawyers for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is standing trial in Russia on drug charges, said on July 26, 2022 they hoped she would receive a "lenient" sentence.

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty

RELATED: 'Forgotten' American Woman Jailed in Russia with Brittney Griner Tried to Flee with U.S. Help Before Arrest

Last Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Biden administration offered a "substantial" deal to Russia to secure the pair's release.

The U.S. reportedly offered to swap the two for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, and Russian officials have also asked the U.S. to include a convicted murder and former Russian spy named Vadim Krasikov, according to CNN.

Both the White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, and a Defense Department spokesperson have said Russia made this counter-proposal in "bad faith," according to CNN and ESPN.

"It's a bad faith attempt to avoid a very serious offer and proposal that the United States has put forward and we urge Russia to take that offer seriously," Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby told CNN on Tuesday.

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