Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges in Russian Court

Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges in Russian Court

Update 7/7/22: A day after asking President Biden for help securing her freedom, Brittney Griner has pleaded guilty to a drug charge in a Russian court, Reuters reports. The basketball star denied that she intentionally broke the law, however. "I'd like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn't want to break the law," Griner said at the trial’s second hearing, according to the news agency. Griner’s next court hearing is currently scheduled for July 14. —Bailey Richards

Back in February, WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner was arrested by Russian authorities after vape cartridges containing hash oil was found in her luggage passing through a Moscow airport. Griner was later charged with illegal crossing of a customs border with illegal narcotics, and given a potential sentence of up to 10 years.

As a high-profile LGBTQ+ Black woman, Griner's detention in Russia was especially troubling given the country's hostile attitudes towards gay people. Now almost five months later, the basketball star is asking President Joe Biden to intervene.

“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 wrote in a handwritten letter that was delivered by her family to the head of state.

She continued, "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."

Griner highlighted the timing of the note coinciding with July 4th and the fact that she voted for Biden in the last Presidential election.

"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,” she wrote. "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."

According to theNew York Times, the White House has neither confirmed nor denied whether the letter successfully made it to Biden, but pointed to a statement released by the National Security Agency's spokesperson Adrienne Watson.

"President Biden has been clear about the need to see all U.S. nationals who are held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad released, including Brittney Griner," Watson said. "The U.S. government continues to work aggressively — using every available means — to bring her home."

Watson further asserted that the President's team has been in close contact with Griner's family, but given recent comments made by the basketball player's wife Cherelle Griner, the relationship may be becoming more and more strained.

"I think the decision for her to feel the need to directly reach out to President Biden is because the failed attempts that we have had as a family," Cherelle said, explaining that the time to stay quiet had come and gone. "I did that, and respectfully we’re over 140 days at this point, that does not work. And so, I will not be quiet anymore, they are not moving, they are not doing anything, and so my wife is struggling, and we have to help her."

Photo via Getty/Christian Petersen