Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges in Russian Court
Brittney Griner‘s legal team has responded to her trial’s “unreasonable” outcome.
More than four months after the WNBA star was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport for allegedly possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, a Russian court found Griner guilty of drug possession and smuggling, in addition to finding her guilty of committing the crime deliberately. At her hearing on Aug. 4, Griner was sentenced to 9 years in prison and received a 1 million ruble fine ($16,000) for conscious drug smuggling and possession.
Following her sentencing, Griner’s attorneys addressed the ruling.
“We are very disappointed by the verdict,” Griner’s legal team shared in a statement to E! News. “As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality. The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea. This contradicts the existing legal practice. Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is absolutely unreasonable. We will certainly file an appeal.”
President Joe Biden—who has heard from the 31-year-old through letter correspondence—also shared a few words on Griner’s sentence. “Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” a statement shared on Aug. 4 read. “It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”
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WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA commissioner Adam Silver also spoke out on behalf of their organizations. “Today’s verdict and sentencing is unjustified and unfortunate,” the joint statement shared to social media read, “but not unexpected and Brittany Griner remains wrongfully detained. The WNBA and NBA’s commitment to her safe return has not wavered.”
After news of Griner’s sentencing broke, TOGETHXR—the brand created by co-founders Sue Bird, Alex Morgan, Chloe Kim and Simone Manuel—also shared a few words of support.
“TOGETHXR is, like so many, disappointed by the outcome of the legal proceedings against Brittney Griner, who remains wrongfully detained,” the statement shared on Aug. 5 read. “It’s impossible to imagine what she must be experiencing, and our hearts break for her, her wife, her family, friends, and teammates. We will remain focused on telling her story, and hope that the U.S. State Department works diligently to bring her home.”
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The Phoenix Mercury star has been in custody in Russia since her February arrest, which saw her charged with smuggling of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, their precursors, or analogues, and with illegal acquisition, storage, transportation, manufacture, processing of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, or their analogues. Griner pled guilty to all charges during her second hearing in early July.
While entering her plea, per Reuters, the basketball player said she had not acted deliberately.
Ahead of the verdict, the WNBA star became emotional as she addressed the court.
“I want to apologize to my teammates for any damage that I have done to them,” Griner shared. “This is my second home and all I wanted to do was win championships and make them proud.”
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