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WNBA Star Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty To Drug Charges In Russia
Three days after U.S. WNBA (The Women’s National Basketball Association) star Brittney Griner, detained in Russia on drug charges, made a direct plea to President Joe Biden to stand up for her, she pleaded guilty this Thursday as her trial continued in a Russian court. She admitted to bringing cannabis into the country. However, the WNBA star argued that she had packed in a hurry and did not intend to break Russia’s law. If convicted, Griner could face up to 10 years in prison.
Griner was arrested in February after Russian authorities found vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis in her luggage at Moscow airport. The athlete traveled to play for a Russian team during the U.S. offseason. She was charged with intentionally importing illegal drugs into Russia.
Prosecutors allege that before her trip, Griner purchased two cartridges containing 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of hash oil for personal use. Last week’s hearing featured testimony from two customs agents who were working at the airport when Griner’s bags were inspected. U.S. State Department says Griner has been detained wrongly. This was Griner’s second court appearance since her trial began in earnest last Friday. Another hearing is scheduled for next Thursday.
As Reuters reported, Thursday’s proceedings were spent on testimony for the prosecution, by two witnesses who were present at the airport when Griner was detained. Griner watched while cramped inside a small cage in a corner of the hot courtroom, not saying much.
On July 4 Griner wrote a letter sent by her representatives to the White House appealing to President Joe Biden for help to bring her home.
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner wrote, according to excerpts of the letter released last Monday.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden read the letter, but she did not detail his reaction.