Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty in Drug Smuggling Case

Stephen Andrews
07 Jul 2022

Basketball star was detained at a Moscow airport earlier this year for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. If convicted, she can end up imprisoned for up to 10 years. Just days before her pleading guilty, the Olympic medalist wrote a letter to President Biden asking for his help.

Brittney Grinner pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges in a Russian court on Thursday (July 7), however, she denied intent to break the law. 

"I'd like to plead guilty, your honor," Griner told the judge overseeing the case at a Thursday hearing. "But there was no intent. I didn't want to break the law."

Russian authorities allege Griner of "large-scale transportation of drugs." The cartridges she carried reportedly had 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of hash oil for personal use. 

Even though the WNBA star pleaded guilty, the case is expected to continue for weeks and could possibly last months. The next hearing is set for July 14, and Griner is expected to provide testimony concerning the allegations against her. 

Days before Griner's guilty plea, the A-list player wrote an emotional letter to President Joe Biden asking for his assistance in her case.

"As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I'm terrified I might be here forever," Griner reportedly wrote. 

"I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don't forget about me and the other American Detainees," she added. "Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore. I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home."

The President's team has said it maintains regular contact with Brittney's family and has said it will use every available means to bring the basketball star home. 

A Cold War-era-styled prisoner exchange between U.S. and Russia is also on the table, but Russian officials have emphasized anything like that may be arranged only once a verdict is reached in Griner's trial. 

Stephen Andrews