On Thursday, Brittney Griner entered a guilty plea to drug charges during her trial in Russia. She admitted bringing cannabis into the country but claimed she had packed hastily and had no intention of breaking the law.
If found guilty, the Phoenix Mercury Center player and Olympic medalist could spend up to 10 years in prison.
Since her trial got underway in earnest last Friday, Brittney Griner had made two court appearances. Her lawyer stated that the trial might run up to two months and likely require multiple hearings by the prosecution before the defense has its turn. There will be another hearing on Thursday next week.
When Was Britney Griner Arrested?
A week before Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Griner was detained on February 17. Sheremetyevo International Airport security personnel allegedly discovered marijuana vape cartridges in her luggage.
She was going there because, like many WNBA players, she supplements her salary by playing for a Russian team in the U.S. summer.
According to the prosecution, Griner bought two cartridges containing 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of hash oil for her own use before going on her vacation. Two customs officers who were on duty at the airport when Griner’s baggage were examined testified during last week’s session.
Brittney Griner: “I Would Like To Plead Guilty“
Griner got to her feet and sought to speak when the prosecution finished. She pleaded guilty and requested an extension so she could gather additional evidence.
“I would like to plead guilty on the charges against me. But I had no intention on breaking any Russian law. I was in a rush packing and the cartridges accidentally ended up in my bags,” Griner said.
Griner’s attorneys responded that it was her first opportunity to respond to the allegations against her and that she felt it was necessary to own up to her faults because she was a role model to many people, which they hope the court would consider when making it’s decision. Next week, her defense will be presented and her acts will be further explained by her attorneys.
What Is Biden’s Administration Doing About Brittney Griner’s Case
Although the Kremlin maintains that the case is not politically motivated, the Biden administration, which in May officially proclaimed Griner to have been illegally jailed, believes that Griner’s arrest was authorized by the Putin regime in order to use her as leverage.
According to a statement released by the White House on Wednesday, the president spoke with Cherelle Griner, the husband of Griner, after receiving criticism for not doing so sooner. He also gave her a draft of a letter he intended to send her that same day. It emphasized once more that the release of Griner and other American prisoners is a high priority.
U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Elizabeth Rood told reporters after Thursday’s proceedings that she had sent Griner Biden’s letter. In the courtroom, she was permitted to talk with Brittney Griner once more.
Possible Prisoner Swap, Ray Of Hope For Brittney Griner
A prospective prisoner exchange involving Griner and a Russian person now in American custody has been discussed in Washington and Moscow. The notoriously convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, popularly known as the “Merchant of Death,” had been the focus of conversations, according to a prior report by the Russian state agency Tass, which cited confirmation from an official source.
But according to remarks made on Thursday by Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, exchanging inmates with the United States may be challenging. He noted that the “hype” surrounding the issue does not help, alluding to the letter that Biden intended to send to Brittney Griner.
According to Russia, a potential prisoner swap won’t happen until after a decision has been made.