WNBA’s Kathy Engelbert on Britney Griner: ‘She remains a huge priority for us’

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WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert addressed the detention of Britney Griner on Sunday ahead of the league’s annual All-Star Game.

On Thursday, in a Russian court, Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession charges. She was accused of storing vape cartridges with cannabis-derived oils through a Moscow airport.

She has been in custody since February and has made few public appearances.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert addresses the crowd during the 2022 WNBA All-Star Game on July 10, 2022 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert addresses the crowd during the 2022 WNBA All-Star Game on July 10, 2022 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
(Randy Belis/NBAE via Getty Images)

“Obviously, we are thinking about Britney Griner right now. Engelbert said in Chicagothrough Reuters.

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“She remains a huge priority for us, continues to enjoy our full support, fully focused on getting her home safely and as soon as possible.”

Griner’s Russian legal team said Thursday the WNBA superstar “decided to take full responsibility for her actions” as she pleaded guilty of a drug charge to a court in Moscow and hoped that the sentence would not be harsh.

Griner faces a 10-year sentence.

A close-up of a court decal honoring Phoenix Mercury's Britney Griner during the 2022 WNBA Skills Challenge of the 2022 WNBA All-Star Weekend on July 9, 2022 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

A close-up of a court decal honoring Phoenix Mercury’s Britney Griner during the 2022 WNBA Skills Challenge of the 2022 WNBA All-Star Weekend on July 9, 2022 at McCormick Place in Chicago.
(Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

MEGAN RAPINO STARTED BRITNEY GREINER WITH ‘BG’ EMBROIDERY ON SUIT AT THE PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF LIBERTY AWARDING CEREMONY

BG pleaded guilty today. This was her decision based on discussions with her legal team in Russia,” her legal team said. Britney sets an example of courage. She has decided to take full responsibility for her actions as she knows that she is a role model for many people.

“Given the nature of her case, a small amount of the substance and BG personality and history of positive contributions to world and Russian sports, the defense hopes that the application will be considered by the court as a mitigating circumstance and there will be no harsh sentence.”

WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner arrives for a hearing at Khimki Court near Moscow on July 7, 2022.

WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner arrives for a hearing at Khimki Court near Moscow on July 7, 2022.
(Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images)

A day later, Griner pleaded guilty. Russian Foreign Ministry said during a briefing that the WNBA star would have the option to appeal his sentence or petition for a pardon. The Foreign Office also disputed US claims that she was unlawfully detained on 25 February. 17.

The White House confirmed on Wednesday that President Biden spoke to 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 around the world.”

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Before Griner issued a guilty plea, her legal team said it expects Griner’s trial to conclude around early August.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.