Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession and smuggling in a Moscow trial Thursday, according to reports from Russian media. However, she said she hadn’t broken the law on purpose.
“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner, who held up a photo of herself and her wife Cherelle as she walked into court, said, Reuters reports.
“I’d like to give my testimony later. I need time to prepare.”
The next hearing will be on July 14.
In February, the 31-year-old WNBA player was arrested in Russia after customs officers allegedly found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil while she was passing through an airport outside Moscow.
Griner has said she unintentionally packed the vape cartridges filled with cannabis oil because she was in a hurry. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of smuggling drugs. She has been held in a Russian detention center for the last four and a half months.
Russia has not shown signs of sympathy, via KTLA.
“This is a serious offense, confirmed by indisputable evidence… Attempts to present the case as if the American was detained illegally do not hold up,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev said Wednesday.
“The law has been violated, and arguments about the innocent nature of Griner’s addiction, which, by the way, is punishable in some U.S. states, are inappropriate in this case,” he added.
On July 4, Griner wrote a letter to President Joe Biden asking for his help, according to CBS News.
“… as I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” she wrote.
The White House said Wednesday that Biden and Vice President Harris phoned Griner’s wife, Cherelle, to tell her that they’re doing their best to bring to bring Griner home.
The White House is considering a prison swap with Putin that would release Russian international weapons trafficker Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner..
In May, the U.S. State Department characterized Griner’s arrest as wrongful detainment.
“The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement obtained by People. “The U.S. Government will continue to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner and her family.”
According to the Associated Press, the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs is overseeing Griner’s case.
“The consular officer who visited with Brittney Griner was able to verify that she was doing as well as can be expected under these very difficult circumstances,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price, said during a department press briefing.
Griner’s team is behind her. “As we begin the 2022 season, we are keeping Brittney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a May statement.
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