WNBA Star Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty To Drug Possession And Smuggling Charges In Russian Court

Syndication: Arizona Republic
Antranik Tavitian/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Brittney Griner plead guilty to narcotics possession and smuggling charges in Russia on Thursday, telling a Moscow court that she accidentally smuggled marijuana into the country.

Griner was detained in February at a Moscow airport after Russian authorities alleged she had cannabis oil in her luggage.

Griner was then ordered by a Russian judge to stay in detention.

In court today, the WNBA star said, “I would like to plead guilty on the charges against me, but I had no intention on breaking any Russian law. I was in a rush packing and the cartridges accidentally ended up in my bags.”

Griner’s trial began last Friday in Russia. Legal experts and US authorities have labeled the proceedings as a “show trial” which could likely end in a conviction and long sentence.

Griner has been permitted to write and receive notes from friends and family via her Russian attorneys. Most of her communication is monitored by Russian officials.

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson told reporters on Monday, “We believe the Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner.”

Watson continued, “President Biden has been clear about the need to see all U.S. nationals who are held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad released, including Brittney Griner. The U.S. government continues to work aggressively – using every available means – to bring her home.”

As President Biden faces increasing pressure to take a stronger position in order to urge Moscow to release Griner, a new worldwide rumor implies a possible prisoner swap for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

According to Steve Zissou and Russian media, Russian officials want Bout freed.

Bout, who is presently serving a 25-year federal prison sentence, was convicted of conspiring to murder US civilians by carrying anti-aircraft missiles and assisting a terrorist organisation, all of which his attorney disputes.