Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Drug Possession, Asks Russian Court for Mercy

by Bryan Fyalkowski

WNBA star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty during her trial in Russia, saying she had “inadvertently” traveled with hashish oil. During her plea, she asked the court for mercy.

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner said in the courtroom today.

Sources told ESPN’s T.J. Quinn that the guilty plea was a strategy to help facilitate a prisoner swap between the United States and Russia that could help bring Griner home. It was also a realization that she was not going to be acquitted.

Griner left the courtroom without speaking with the media. Her lawyer, Alexander Boykov, told reporters they were hoping for the most lenient sentencing possible. Her next appearance in court will be on July 14. Over the next week, Griner will take the time to formulate a testimony.

Brittney Griner Has Been in Custody for Months

The 31-year-old currently faces up to 10 years in prison under the charge of “large-scale transportation of drugs.” Griner was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17 with vaporizer cartridges in her luggage. According to a report by state news agency RIA Novosti, she claimed she was in a hurry and did not realize she packed them.

There is no timetable for the trial, which sources say has been “theater,” with Griner’s guilty verdict as a foregone conclusion. In the meantime, Elizabeth Rood – deputy chief of mission at the United States Embassy in Moscow – says her imprisonment has been OK, all things considered.

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

Brittney Griner recently wrote a letter to President Joe Biden, saying: “I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home.”