Detained WNBA player pleads guilty in court, faces 10 years in Russian prison

WNBA player Brittney Griner, who is being detained in Russia, has pleaded guilty to the charges against her but told the judge that there was no “intent” to break the law.

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” she explained to the court, which was translated into Russian. “I’d like to give my testimony later. I need time to prepare.”

Griner was arrested at the Moscow airport in February after she was allegedly caught in possession of two vape cartridges of cannabis oil. She was in the country at the time to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg, which she does as a way to supplement her income during the WNBA’s off-season.

Deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow Elizabeth Rood described Griner’s attitude toward her detainment and reiterated America’s desire to see Griner and “all wrongfully detained” American citizens be brought home.

“She’s eating well, she’s able to read books and under the circumstances she’s doing well,” Rood revealed.

“I would like again to emphasize the commitment of the U.S. government at the very highest level to bring home safely Ms. Griner and all U.S. citizens wrongfully detained as well as the commitment of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to care for and protect the interests of all U.S. citizens detained or imprisoned in Russia,” she continued.

There is speculation that the guilty plea was a defense strategy, as Russia is not famous for its fair trials or compassionate treatment of defendants. Any future trade of prisoners between the United States and Russia would “almost certainly require an admission of guilt by the American star” says ESPN.

However, it is acknowledged that a guilty plea also taints her public image, and could make people react negatively toward her when she returns to the U.S. Additionally, maintaining her innocence could also provoke backlash from Russian authorities, complicating the trial and lessening the chances of a quick return to the States.

While the trial is far from over, Griner is facing up to 10 years in Russian prison if she is convicted.

Social media reactions to the plea were mixed:


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