American basketball star Brittney Griner pleads guilty to drug charges in Russian courtroom

American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner has pled guilty to smuggling drugs into Russia.

The WNBA athlete is facing up to 10 years in prison for bringing cannabis oil into the country, NBC reported.

American basketball star detained in Russia pleads guilty

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was playing for a Russian basketball team during the WNBA offseason when she was arrested at a Moscow airport in February.

Her lawyers say she was in a rush when she accidentally packed vape canisters filled with the contraband into her bags, and that she should be shown mercy because of her “positive contributions” to sport.

“Considering the nature of her case, the insignificant amount of the substance and BG’s personality and history of positive contributions to global and Russian sport, the defense hopes that the plea will be considered by the court as a mitigating factor and there will be no severe sentence,” the lawyers said.

Biden officials said they are doing everything they can to bring the “wrongfully detained” athlete home, and the White House said that President Biden talked to Griner’s wife on the phone after Griner wrote to Biden pleading for help.

The Russian government insists the evidence she committed a “serious offense” is “indisputable,” and the Kremlin has complained that U.S. accusations of political persecution could complicate negotiations for Griner’s release.

Prisoner swap?

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that “attempts by the American side to make noise in public … don’t help the practical settlement of issues,” ESPN reported.

“Sources” told ESPN that Griner faces little chance of an acquittal in a Russian courtroom, and that the guilty plea may be a step to smoothing a deal between the U.S. and Russia to swap prisoners.

Elizabeth Rood, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, said that she delivered a letter from Biden to Griner in court. Rood emphasized that the Biden administration is committed “at the very highest level to bring home safely Ms. Griner and all U.S. citizens wrongfully detained” in Russia.

But the sister of Paul Whelan, a former Marine and security director serving sixteen years in Russia for a spying conviction, has complained that Griner is getting more attention from the Biden administration than other Americans stuck in Russia.

“Our concern is, why the outreach to some families and not others. There are 55-plus families that would like to have that same attention,” she told CNN.

Share on facebook
Share To Facebook

Welcome to our comments section. We want to hear from you!

Any comments with profanity, advocacy of violence, harassment, personally identifiable information or other violations will be removed. If you feel your comment has been removed in error please contact us!

Latest Posts