American basketball player pleads guilty in Russian court trial

American basketball player Brittney Griner, accused in Russia of drug possession and trafficking, pleaded guilty this Thursday (7), during a trial being held in a Moscow court.

The athlete, who used a translator to speak during the entire session, admitted all the accusations, although she assured that she did not want to commit any type of crime, according to the local news agency Interfax.

Griner explained at the trial that the presence of cannabis oil that was found in his luggage, to be used in an electronic cigarette, is justified by the haste with which he packed his bags to board to Russia.

The next hearing, in which the sentence is expected to be pronounced, is scheduled for next Thursday (14).

Griner’s lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, reported that the admission of guilt and the declaration that there was no intention to infringe Russian law were a strategy to that the player receives a lesser sentence.

“We certainly hope that this circumstance, in combination with the defense’s evidence, will be taken into account when passing the sentence, and that it will be light”, said the lawyer to reporters covering the trial.

At this Thursday’s session, testimonies were taken from witnesses appointed by the prosecution, who participated in the search of the player’s belongings at Russian customs.

Griner, 31 years old, who is a two-time world and Olympic champion, was arrested in February of this year at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport.

In her belongings of the player, customs inspectors located cannabis oil, which led to her arrest for possession and drug trafficking.

Subsequently, her preventive detention was decreed. Since then, the American has been detained in a Russian penitentiary unit. It is speculated that the arrest was a Russian retaliation for American support for Ukraine, invaded by Moscow troops at the time Griner was arrested.

Earlier, it was reported that Russia and the United States were negotiating the exchange of the player for the arms dealer Viktor But, known as the “merchant of death”, sentenced to life imprisonment by the American Justice, which has not been confirmed.

The US State Department considers that Brittney Griner was unfairly detained. This week, the player sent a letter to US President Joe Biden asking for help.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the US National Security Advisor USA, Jake Sullivan, and US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, spoke with Griner’s wife recently and that Washington will “use all possible tools” to get the player back to the country.

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