Brittney Griner back in Russian court on cannabis charge

American basketball star Brittney Griner was back in court on Tuesday for her trial for cannabis possession amid U.S. diplomatic efforts to secure her release.

During the hearing, prosecutors called a state narcotics expert who analyzed cannabis found in Griner's luggage.

Her defense fielded a specialist who challenged the analysis, charging that it was flawed and didn't conform to official rules.

If convicted, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star and two-time Olympic gold medalist could face 10 years in prison.

As her trial has progressed, the Biden administration has faced growing public pressure to get her released.

In an extraordinary move, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, urging him to accept a deal under which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would go free.

The Lavrov-Blinken call marked the highest-level known contact between Washington and Moscow since Russia sent troops into Ukraine more than five months ago

People familiar with the proposal say it envisions trading Griner and Whelan for the notorious arms trader Viktor Bout.

It underlines the public pressure that the White House has faced to get Griner released.

Griner has acknowledged there were vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage when she was arrested at a Moscow airport in February.

But she insisted that she had no criminal intent and that the canisters ended up in her luggage because she was packing hastily.

Griner played for a Russian women’s basketball team in the WNBA off-season.