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#pounditSaturday, December 3, 2022

Reason Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to Russian drug charge revealed

Brittney Griner smiles

Mar 12, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner in attendance of the Phoenix Suns game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Brittney Griner pleaded guilty on Thursday to drug charges in Russia, but she told the criminal court that she did not intentionally break any laws.

Griner told the court that she had “inadvertently” packed vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage when she was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Feb. 17

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner said.

Griner is facing up to 10 years in prison, but ESPN’s TJ Quinn reports that the guilty plea was a strategy to help facilitate a prisoner swap to potentially get the WNBA star home to the United States. It was also Griner’s way of acknowledging that she has virtually no chance of being acquitted.

The guilty plea will not end Griner’s trial. Under Russian law, a judge continues to read the full case file into the record after a guilty plea. Proceedings following a guilty plea can still drag on for weeks or months.

U.S. officials have described Griner’s trial as “theater” and believe a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion. Eventually, the U.S. and Russia are expected to reach a deal to release one or more Russians who are in U.S. custody in exchange for Griner’s release. Quinn notes that Griner would almost certainly have to admit guilt in order for such a deal to be facilitated, which is likely why she pleaded guilty.

Earlier this week, Griner’s coach sounded off over the 31-year-old’s detainment.

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