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Basketball player Brittney Griner detained in Russia for drug trafficking pleads guilty

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MOSCOW | American basketball player Brittney Griner announced at her trial Thursday that she had pleaded guilty to drug trafficking after being arrested in February in possession of a cannabis-based liquid at a Moscow airport.

• Read also: Biden spoke to Brittney Griner’s wife

• Read also: Imprisoned since February, Brittney Griner writes to Joe Biden

“I would like to plead guilty to all charges,” he told the court, adding that “he did not intend to violate Russian law.”

“I was in a hurry while packing and the cartridges accidentally ended up in my bag,” she said, explaining the presence of cannabis-based liquid in her luggage.

Immediately after her speech, the hearing was postponed to July 14, when she will be heard and questioned by the court.

The Phoenix Mercury player, who faces a hefty prison sentence, was arrested in February when she arrived at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in possession of vaporizers and a cannabis-based liquid, according to the indictment.

Brittney Griner was traveling to Russia to play there during the American off-season, a common practice for WNBA basketball players who often live much better abroad than at home.

Russia denounces the “public clamor” of the United States

Russian diplomacy denounced on Thursday the “public clamor” of American leaders over the case of basketball player Brittney Griner, tried and detained in Russia for drug trafficking, a dossier that Joe Biden has given “priority”.

“The public clamor that likes contemporary politicians so much can only be embarrassing in this concrete case. This not only distracts attention from the case, but parasites it, “said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, according to Russian news agencies.

“What can help (…) is the American consideration of the signals they receive from Russia,” he let go.

The day before, the White House had assured that the release of Brittney Griner, imprisoned in Russia since February, was a “priority” for the American president, who read a poignant letter from the sportswoman and spoke to his wife.

Before that, amid the continuing deterioration of Russian-American relations, particularly with Russia’s offensive against Ukraine, senior officials in Washington claimed that Russia was “unfairly” holding the limelight in 2: 3. .

terrified

The Russian warning comes on the day of the second hearing in Ms. Griner’s trial, which faces up to 10 years in prison. She is being tried in the Khimki court on the outskirts of Moscow.

The Phoenix Mercury player was arrested in February when she arrived at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in possession, allegedly, of vaporizers and a cannabis-based liquid.

Brittney Griner was traveling to Russia to play there during the American off-season, a common practice for WNBA basketball players who often live much better abroad than at home.

For the Russian deputy minister, we must await the epilogue of this process, while some are already betting on a possible exchange of prisoners between the United States and Russia.

“It is clear that all legal proceedings are not over with us. Until it is done, we cannot talk about the rest, ”said the diplomat.

In light of Russian jurisprudence in similar cases, this 31-year-old woman can expect a heavy sentence, to be served in a Russian penal colony.

Detained in a Russian prison, the basketball player wrote a letter to Joe Biden that was symbolically deposited in the White House on Monday, US Independence Day, begging the president not to “forget”.

“I know very well you have to go through a lot of things, but please don’t forget me and the other American prisoners,” Brittney Griner said from her cell, saying she was “terrified of being here forever.

Exchanges of prisoners

On Wednesday, Joe Biden called Cherelle Griner, the basketball player’s wife, to “reassure her that he is working to ensure Brittney’s release as quickly as possible,” according to the White House.

Americans and Russians accuse each other of detaining their respective citizens for political purposes. There have been several exchanges of prisoners in the past.

In April, former US Marine Trevor Reed, sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia for violence he denied, was exchanged for a Russian pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, who had been jailed in the United States since 2010 for drug trafficking in connection with the FARC in Colombia.

Other such exchanges would be the subject of talks.

Among the most cited names, those of Paul Whelan, an American sentenced to 16 years for espionage and who declares himself innocent, and of the famous Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, arrested in Thailand in 2008 and who is serving a 25-year sentence in prison in the United States.

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