Brittney Griner’s ordeal in Russia doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. On Thursday, the U.S. basketball player pled guilty to Russian drug charges, per Reuters. As previously reported, Russian authorities detained Brittney while she was entering the country with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. If she’s convicted, Brittney could face up to 10 years in prison.
“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Brittney told the court.
Brittney added that the cartridges officials found in her luggage were a mistake. According to CNN, Brittney told the court via an interpreter that the contraband was a result of packing in a hurry.
Though Brittney did not speak to reporters while leaving the courtroom, she reportedly asked for time to prepare a statement. She is scheduled to be back in court on July 14.
On Thursday, she appeared wearing a bright red, Crenshaw t-shirt and matching sweats. She also wore glasses with her locs pulled into a low ponytail.
Brittney’s trial began on July 1 at the Khimki Court near Moscow. Prior to the trial, the court determined the U.S. citizen would remain behind bars for the trial and the next six months.
Her plea on Thursday differs from the plea made in March. At the time, she pled not guilty to drug trafficking charges. Russian media reported officials extended Brittney’s detainment to May 19.
Brittney Pens Letter To President Biden Requesting Help
Towards the end of May, Brittney’s wife Cherelle Griner spoke about the detainment in an interview. She pleaded with President Joe Biden to abide by any demands made by the foreign country.
“I keep hearing he has the power. She’s a political pawn so if they’re holding her because they want you to do something, then I want you to do it,” Cherelle aimed at President Biden.
“Every single day matters … to make sure that she comes back.”
Cherelle Griner, the wife of WNBA superstar Brittney Griner, who has been detained in a Russian prison for nearly 100 days, speaks to @robinroberts about the fight to bring her home. https://t.co/A7bpCs5jQp pic.twitter.com/Yv8GFk5hfW
— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 25, 2022
Earlier this week, Brittney echoed her wife’s attempt to directly reach President Joe Biden. The 31-year-old penned a letter that was shared in excerpts by ESPN’s T.J. Quinn. A rep for Brittney and ESPN refused to release the full letter or how the letter ended up at the White House from Russia.
“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other detainees,” Brittney wrote. “Please do all you can to bring us home.”
NEW: A letter from Brittney Griner was sent to the White House today, making a direct appeal to President Biden for her freedom. Representatives shared the following excerpts: pic.twitter.com/pvh4IpOfou
— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) July 4, 2022
Russian Officials Say Brittney Is Not A Political Prisoner
Brittney’s arrest back in February came on the heels of Russia invading Ukraine–thus souring relations with the U.S. and other countries. Though the U.S. declared Brittney “wrongfully detained” in May, the status has done little to help her situation.
Moreover, Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the athlete is a hostage. Speaking through spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, the president said she’s being punished for breaking the law regarding hashish. Dmitry pointed out that “hundreds and hundreds of Russian citizens” have met the similar judgment for the same crime.
“She violated Russian law, and now she’s being prosecuted. It’s not about being a hostage,” Dmitry said. “There are lots of American citizens here. They’re enjoying their freedoms…but you have to obey the laws.”
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