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:
Gotta go the time
— dan capozzi (@dancapozzi1) July 7, 2022
She said at the trial she was in a rush packing her stuff and accidentally brought along cannabis oil. https://t.co/oc0bR64mCm
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) July 7, 2022
This is the most anyone has talked about the WNBA
— ✨Danny Phantom✨ (@BabyBiird) July 7, 2022
If she gets released, let’s see if she kisses the American ground when she gets off of that airplane. Only when you lose your freedom can you truly appreciate its value. I pray she falls so low that she reaches out to her Creator and seeks the freedom of her soul. ✝️🇺🇸 = Freedom!
— Larry B (@RunTheRace78) July 7, 2022
She didn’t break a law?
— Big-T (@ScarabinoTony) July 7, 2022
If the US gets her out early, she won’t come back with a sense of gratitude for the US, as some have indicated. She’ll simply complain about how long it took, or how not enough people stood up for her, etc.
— Michael Parnell (@parnellwrites) July 7, 2022
I would like to think she has learned a lesson not to take the freedom America provides for granted. But sadly, I doubt that will happen.
— 🍊🍊Dave 🍊🍊 (@MiDiamondDave) July 7, 2022
— Dr.SteelMagnolia (@TenoverDenise) July 7, 2022
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