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Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty To Drug Smuggling, Faces 10 Years In Prison
While making her second appearance in Russian court on Thursday, WNBA star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges.
Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner faces 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to drug smuggling charges on Thursday (July 7). Making her second appearance in Russian court since the trial began last Friday (July 1), Griner said that she brought cannabis into the country while packing in a rush, not intending to be arrested.
"I'd like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn't want to break the law," Griner said, according to Reuters. "I'd like to give my testimony later. I need time to prepare."
Griner was arrested in Russia on February 17 when officials discovered that the WNBA player brought vape cartridges containing hashish oil.
Griner's confession comes less than a week after the WNBA player wrote an open letter to President Joe Biden, asking to be pardoned from Russian prison.
“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the 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.”
\u201cUS Embassy\u2019s Elizabeth Rood confirms she delivered letter from President Biden to #BrittneyGriner at trial in Moscow today. My best guess from inside the courtroom: it played a role in Griner\u2019s decision to make her guilty plea. Russia says no prisoner swap until after verdict.\u201d— Charles Maynes (@Charles Maynes) 1657202013
After Thursday's proceedings, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Elizabeth Rood told reporters that Biden has since responded to Griner in a letter, which was delivered to her. Also in the fight to ensure Griner's release is her wife, Cherrelle Griner, who's spoken publicly about Griner's detainment.
Although there has been an exchange between Washington D.C. and Moscow officials about a "prisoner swap," where Griner can return to the U.S., Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has stated that there's been "hype" surrounding the trial and "this kind of correspondence does not help."
A verdict will be reached before the potential of a prisoner swap is met.
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