BRITTNEY GRINER PLEADS GUILTY TO DRUG POSSESSION IN RUSSIA

By Harry Allison

Russian new agencies are reporting that American basketball star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty today to drug possession and smuggling during her trial in Moscow but said she had no intention of committing a crime.

The reports quoted Griner as saying through an interpreter at the court hearing that she had acted unintentionally because she was packing in haste.

Griner was detained in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after vape canisters with cannabis oil allegedly were found in her luggage. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of large-scale transportation of drugs.

The trial of the Phoenix Mercury star and two-time Olympic gold medalist began last week amid a growing chorus of calls for Washington to do more to secure her freedom nearly five months after her arrest.

Before today’s hearing, Russian police escorted Griner, handcuffed and clad in a bright red T-shirt and sports trousers, into the courtroom past a crowd of journalists.

The athlete was detained in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after vape canisters with cannabis oil allegedly were found in her luggage. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of large-scale transportation of drugs.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that “attempts by the American side to make noise in public … don’t help the practical settlement of issues.”

The White House said President Joe Biden called Griner’s wife on Wednesday to assure her that he’s doing all he can to obtain the athlete’s release, as soon as possible. They spoke after Biden read a letter from Griner in which she said she feared she’d never return home.

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