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Brittney Griner pleads guilty to drug charges in Russian court

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Griner, whom the US State Division has categorized as wrongfully detained, faces as much as 10 years in jail below the cost.

The 31-year-old was arrested in February at a Moscow airport after Russian officers say they discovered hashish oil in her baggage. The basketball star, who performs in Russia in the course of the WNBA’s offseason, has been held since then on drug smuggling expenses punishable by as much as 10 years in jail. Her trial began last week.

Griner informed the court docket Thursday she had not supposed to commit a criminal offense, state information company RIA Novosti reported. Talking via an interpreter, Griner mentioned she had not meant to hold medicine in her baggage, and it was the results of her packing in a rush, the report mentioned.

Griner left the courtroom with out giving any remark to reporters, and her subsequent listening to is ready for July 14.

It's been 130 days since WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia and her trial is about to start. Her wife wants US officials to do more to bring her home

The choice to plead responsible was made by Griner alone, a supply near her mentioned. However in current weeks, Griner, her household, legal professionals and consultants mentioned this determination extensively. Given the 99% reported conviction price in Russian legal instances, Griner was urged to weigh all of the components, together with a plea that would finally end in a shorter sentence.

Some have speculated Griner might be launched and returned to the US in a prisoner swap, as was Trevor Reed, an American veteran who was detained in Russia for 3 years before being released in April.

There isn’t any indication such a swap is imminent in Griner’s case.

However earlier than any potential prisoner swap, it was anticipated Griner must be convicted and likewise admit fault, a senior US official informed CNN. Reed needed to signal a doc saying he was responsible — one thing he had resisted for nearly the whole thing of his detention — simply days earlier than he was let loose, the official mentioned.

Biden and Harris speak with Brittney Griner's wife

“It’s a part of the present and the doc has no authorized pressure or impact within the US. It’s successfully meaningless,” mentioned Reed household spokesperson Jonathan Franks.

Griner’s plea got here on the second day of her trial, at which a prosecutor accused her of smuggling lower than a gram of hashish oil in her baggage. In keeping with TASS, one other state information company. Prosecutors argue Griner supposed to import the medicine into Russia’s territory and put the prohibited substances right into a backpack and a suitcase.

On Wednesday, the White Home introduced President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had spoken by cellphone with Griner’s spouse, Cherelle Griner.

Cherelle Griner was “grateful” for the decision from Biden and Harris, she mentioned in a press release Wednesday.

“Whereas I’ll stay involved and outspoken till she is again house, I’m hopeful in realizing that the President learn my spouse’s letter and took the time to reply,” she mentioned. “I do know BG will be capable of discover consolation in realizing she has not been forgotten.”

This can be a growing story and will likely be up to date.

CNN’s Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.