Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges in Russian Court but Denies Intentionally Breaking the Law

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, July 7, 2022. Jailed American basketball star Brittney Griner returns to a Russian court on Thursday amid a growing chorus of calls for Washington to do more to secure her release nearly five months after being arrested on drug charges. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

US basketball player Brittney Griner has pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian court but has denied deliberately breaking the law.

The Olympic gold medallist was detained in February at an airport near Moscow when cannabis oil vape cartridges were allegedly found in her luggage.

“I was in a rush packing and the cartridges accidentally ended up in my bag,” she told the court in Khimki.

Her trial began last week on charges that could mean 10 years in jail.

Griner’s wife earlier called on President Joe Biden to do “whatever is necessary” to secure her release. Mr Biden told Cherelle Griner he was working to have her freed as soon as possible.

The 31-year-old basketball star, who is accused of possessing and smuggling drugs, had already sent the president a letter saying she was “terrified [she] might be here forever”.

Russian government officials have warned the US not to “make noise in public about the case”. “The hype and working on the public, with all the love for this genre among modern politicians, currently only disturbs” the court process, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

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SOURCE: BBC, Paul Kirby