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Griner pleads guilty to drug smuggling charges in Russia

Brittney Griner
Posted at 7:10 AM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 20:52:21-04

MOSCOW — Jailed American basketball star Brittney Griner reportedly pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges in Russia.

"I'd like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn't want to break the law," Griner said, according to Reuters.

NPR reports that Griner said she mistakenly packed marijuana in her luggage.

Griner’s trial began last week amid a growing chorus of calls for Washington to do more to secure her release nearly five months after her arrest.

A senior Russian diplomat warned Thursday that U.S. criticism of how Russia’s handling the case wouldn’t help her release prospects.

The White House previously said it is pursuing “every avenue to bring Brittney home.”

Griner was detained at a Moscow airport after vape canisters with cannabis oil allegedly were found in her luggage.

She faces up to 10 years in prison.

Officials with Arizona State's Academy for Justice told ABC15 that Griner's decision to plead guilty could be a strategy to get her home sooner.

"So pleading guilty isn't necessarily about guilt or innocence," said Valena Beety, a professor at ASU.

"It's instead about what is the best move for the individual within this system that they can't necessarily control," she said.

According to Beety, Griner may receive a lesser sentence for pleading guilty.

She may also be able to come home through some kind of prisoner swap.

*What she's conceding to is a very small amount of marijuana," Beety said.

"It's not large-scale drug trafficking which is what she was charged with so I think that's what's going to matter -- that ultimately it was for personal use," she added.