WNBA Player Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges in Russia

WNBA Player Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges in Russia

Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges in Russia

The court case against WNBA basketball player, Brittney Griner has ended with the American pleading guilty to the drug charges.

According to ESPN, Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges early Thursday in a Moscow court, her attorneys have said. With the guilty plea, she is facing a prison term of up to 10 years.  She told a judge that she had brought hashish oil into Russia but had done so “inadvertently” as she asked the court for mercy.

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner told the judge in English. Her statement was then translated into Russian for the court.

She has been detained in Russia since February when Russian authorities discovered vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

There is a strategy for Griner pleading guilty as experts did not expect her to outright win the case in court. With the guilty plea to charges of drug possession and smuggling, U.S. officials may try to help facilitate a prisoner swap that could bring the WNBA player back home to the States. They recognized that there was no chance that she was going to be acquitted. A guilty verdict was seen as a foregone conclusion.

There is now hope that a deal that would bring one or more Russians who are currently in U.S. custody sent back to Russia in exchange for the release of Griner and possibly another American who has been detained in Russia since December 2018, Paul Whelan.

Earlier this week, Griner wrote a handwritten letter to President Joe Biden asking for his assistance in getting her released from a Russian prison.

CBS News reported that the WNBA All-Star pleaded with the president not to forget her, adding her appreciation for Independence Day has taken on a new meaning based on her experience in Russia.

“I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner wrote. “On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father, who is a Vietnam War veteran. It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”

Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges in Russia

 

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