San Antonio Express-News
Jul. 7—WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian court on Thursday, according to a report from Reuters. Griner appeared for her court hearing in Khimki, outside Moscow, Russia Thursday for her ongoing trial.
“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner said during her trial Thursday, according to a Reuters journalist in the courtroom. “I’d like to give my testimony later. I need time to prepare.”
Russian new agencies quoted Griner as saying she acted unintentionally because she was packing in haste, according to the Associated Press.
The Houston native was arrested in February at a Moscow airport after officials accused her of carrying cannabis oil in her luggage. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in Russian prison. In May, the U.S. State Department classified Griner as “wrongfully detained.”
President Joe Biden has been facing mounting pressure to strike a deal with Russia to bring the seven-time All-Star and other wrongfully detained Americans home. Earlier this week, Griner made a personal appeal to the president in a handwritten letter, writing that she feared that she may be imprisoned in Russia “forever” and asked not to forget about her and other American detainees.
“Please do all you can to bring us home,” Griner wrote. “I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore. I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, Wednesday reassuring her he is working on bringing the basketball player home as soon as possible.
Russian news media have hinted at Griner potentially being traded for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known by some as the “Merchant of Death,” in a prisoner swap with the U.S. Bout is currently serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. for conspiring to sell weapons to parties with alleged plans to kill Americans. However, U.S. officials have not confirmed any potential deals of this nature.
Griner’s next court hearing is scheduled for July 14.
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