“I never intended to harm anyone, I never intended to endanger the Russian population, and I never intended to break any laws here,” Greiner said at Khimki City Court. “I made an honest mistake and I hope in your judgment this doesn’t end my life here. I know everyone keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope it’s far from this courtroom.”
“I want to say again that I had no intention of breaking any Russian laws. I had no intention. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime,” she added.
A verdict is expected as soon as possible at 10:45 a.m. ET.
In closing arguments Thursday ahead of Griner’s apology, the attorney general asked for Griner to be in prison for 9.5 years, according to defense attorney Maria Blagovolina, a partner at Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin and Partners.
In response, Blagovolina argued that Greiner had never used marijuana in Russia and that she had never intended to do so. The lawyer added that she did not need to bring vape cartridges to Russia.
Blagovolina argued that all this confirms the complete absence of intent in her actions. She added that even if Greiner used medical marijuana, it was only at home in Arizona, which is rare and only with a doctor’s prescription. Blagovolina said she did not know how strict the laws were in Russia.
Grenier arrived at court handcuffed on Thursday and was escorted by Russian officers to the defendant’s cage. Once she wasn’t tied down, she spoke with her legal team and then uploaded a photo of the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team, the Russian team she played with during the WNBA offseason.
Greiner’s other attorney, Alexander Boikov, argued that Greiner had no opportunity to properly examine court documents. He said that the Russian constitution guarantees everyone the right to use their mother tongue and to freely choose the language of communication.
Boikov cited an example when a language translator provided to Griner flipped a lengthy document submitted by a translation investigator and then told Griner, “Basically, that means you’re guilty.”
Elizabeth Rudd, charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Russia, arrived in court on Thursday ahead of the hearing. She appeared in court throughout the trial and said Tuesday that the United States will “continue to support Ms. Greiner in every step of this process and for as long as it is required to bring her back to the United States safely.”
How did the trial go?
Greiner’s lawyers have put forward some arguments undermining the prosecution’s case and claiming that the basketball player’s detention was not handled properly after she was stopped by staff at Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17.
Boikov said last week that her arrest, search and arrest was “inappropriate,” noting that more details would be revealed during closing arguments.
Greiner testified that there was no lawyer, and her rights were not explained to her. These rights include access to a lawyer once she is in custody and the right to know what is suspected. Under Russian law, she must have been informed of her rights within three hours of her arrest.
On Tuesday, at the seventh hearing of her case, a defense expert testified that an examination of the substance in Griner’s electronic cartridges did not comply with Russian law. Blagovolina also told CNN that her team’s experts have identified “some flaws” in the machines used to measure the substance.
At the trial, Greiner testified that she had a prescription for medical cannabis and had no intention of bringing the drug to Russia. After she was detained in February, she was checked for drugs and was clean, her lawyers had previously said.
“She made it clear to the court that she knew and respected Russian laws and had no intention of violating them,” Blagovolina said in her testimony.
“We still insist that she, recklessly and quickly, packed her suitcase and did not pay attention to the fact that items permitted for use in the United States ended up in this suitcase and made it to the Russian Federation,” Boykov, of the Moscow Law Center, said.
The trial began against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s conflict with the United States and Europe.
The Kremlin also warned on Tuesday that US “megaphone diplomacy” would not help in prisoner exchange negotiations with Grenier. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow believed these talks should be “secret”.
The Griner family, supporters, and fellow WNBA members continued to express messages of solidarity and hope as they await the conclusion of the trial. Her WNBA team, Phoenix Mercury, is expected to play the Connecticut Sun game Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET.
Elizabeth Wolff, Travis Caldwell, Dakin Andoni, Kylie Atwood, Evan Perez, Jennifer Hansler, Natasha Bertrand, Frederic Blitgen, Chris Liakos, and Masha Angelova of CNN contributed to this report.