August 8, 2022

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Brittney Griner, a US basketball star, pleaded guilty on the second day of her trial on charges of alleged drug smuggling, according to Griner’s lawyers on Thursday, July 7.

Griner pleaded guilty but stated she had no intent to commit a crime, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti on Thursday.

Griner, 31, was arrested on February 17 at a Moscow airport, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine, while playing in Russia during the WNBA’s offseason. Russian authorities claimed she had cannabis oil in her luggage and charged her with smuggling large amounts of a narcotic substance, a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison.

The next hearing is scheduled for July 14th.

According to RIA Novosti, Griner told the court through her interpreter that she had no intent to carry luggage with hash oil but this was a result of her “packing up in a hurry.”

“Ms. Griner says she pleads guilty. She had no intent to carry drugs, no intent to commit a crime, as she was packing up [her luggage] in a hurry,” her interpreter said in court, RIA Novosti reported.

According to a source close to Griner, she made the decision to plead guilty on her own. However, in recent weeks, Griner, her family, lawyers, and experts have extensively discussed this decision, claiming that pleading guilty could result in a shorter sentence.

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle, on Wednesday. Griner wrote in a letter to Biden on Monday that she is concerned about being detained in Russia indefinitely.

Asked by reporters outside the court if Griner can contact her wife, Griner’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina said, “This can be done in the form of a call. Unfortunately, due to the fact that Brittney now goes to the court, it is logistically difficult to arrange.”

Because Griner is either traveling to the court from her detention center north of Moscow or she is kept at the detention center in Khimki by the court, Blagovolina added that “we have not yet been able to organize it technically.”

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