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Britney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian court on Thursday.
two-time Olympic champion was arrested in February on suspicion of trying to smuggle vape cartridges filled with cannabis-derived oils through a Moscow airport.
“I would like to plead guilty, Your Honor. But there was no intention. I didn’t want to break the law,” she told the court via Reuters.
“I would like to give my testimony later. I need time to prepare,” she added.
Griner’s admission of guilt came just a day after the Russian Foreign Ministry said at a briefing that WNBA star will have the opportunity to appeal her sentence or apply for a pardon. The Foreign Office also disputed US claims that she was unlawfully detained on 25 February. 17.
“First, the court must issue its verdict, but no one is stopping Britney Griner from using the appeal procedure, as well as asking for clemency,” a ministry spokesman said, adding that “attempts to present their case as if an American woman was illegally detained do not stand up to any criticism.”
Rebecca Koffler, a Russian-born former US intelligence officer and expert on Russia and Vladimir Putintold Fox News Digital on Wednesday that it was unlikely that Putin would pardon Griner in such a serious case, and her detention would likely be used as a bargaining chip for a prison swap or something else.
Putin and the Kremlin want to exchange Britney Griner for Viktor Bout, Merchant of Death. nobody else. They will drag the whole process, including the appeal, just as a negotiating tool to get what they want from the Biden administration,” she explained.
“In the end, Putin will use Ms. Griner for his bargaining power in a prisoner exchange case or something else. Booth or some other concessions. They know our hotspots.”
After news of the guilty plea, Griner Koffler added on Thursday that she believes she is “doing the right thing” despite participating in a “sham” lawsuit.
“Russians rule. Britney needs to hold on tight and trust that the US government will do whatever it takes to get her out.”
She added that participating in a prisoner exchange to bring Griner home could be risky as it would only “encourage Russian spy services to capture more Americans on their soil who unwittingly violate Russian laws,” but she is “sympathetic” to her situation.
“I would not want any American to end up in a Russian prison. In general, believe and pray.
On Wednesday, the White House confirmed that President Joe Biden spoke with Griner’s wife and is actively “working to secure the speedy release of Britney, as well as the release of Paul Whelan and other US citizens illegally detained or held hostage in Russia and other countries.” world. “
Griner, who has played in Russia for the past seven years during the WNBA offseason, could face up to 10 years in prison. The next hearing in her case is scheduled for July 14.