PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 06: Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury during the first half in Game Four of the 2021 WNBA semifinals at Footprint Center on October 06, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
UPDATE (11:45 a.m. EST): Brittney Griner has been sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison per ESPN. The length of time served will be determined by a negotiation of a prisoner swap between Russia and the U.S.
Brittney Griner has been found guilty of an attempt to smuggle illegal narcotics into Russia, according to her lawyers, as The New York Times reports.
Griner was detained after they found vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow back in February, per NBC.
In court today (August 4), Griner spoke on why she decided to plead guilty. She said that she cited her upbringing, saying that her parents instilled the principles of taking “ownership for your responsibilities.”
“That’s why I pleaded guilty to my charges; I understand everything that has been said against me in the charges against me, but I had no intent to break Russian law,” she said, per The New York Times. “I want the court to understand that it was an honest mistake that I made while rushing and in stress trying to recover post-Covid and just trying to get back to my team.”
Prosecutors are asking that the NBA star be sentenced to 9 ½ years in prison. Taht sentenc is just six months shy of the maximum of 10 years that she is eligible to receive.
A sentencing hearing has yet to be announced.
Brittney Griner's Wife Speaks Out As WNBA Star Is Detained In Russia
Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle T. Griner, is speaking out on the WNBA star’s behalf after it was reported she had been detained in Russia for several weeks.
“Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me regarding my wife’s safe return from Russia. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated. I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life,” Cherelle captioned a photo of the two smiling on the beach. “I understand that many of you have grown to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details. Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely. Thank you!”
Russian officials said Griner was detained after they found vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow per NBC.
The offense could land the basketball star 10 years in prison.
Griner has played over in Russia for the past seven years. The last time she played in a game was Jan. 29 for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg before the two-week hiatus in February for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.
Griner’s home team, The Phoenix Mercury, released a statement eager for the athlete’s return back to the United States.
“We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home,” the team said.
The USA Basketball league also expressed concern with Griner’s return.
“Brittney has always handled herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with USA Basketball and her safety and wellbeing are our primary concerns,” the tweet said.
Per the outlet, the State Department has issued a “do not travel” advisory for U.S. citizens thinking of heading to Russia as the Ukraine/Russia conflict escalates.
Look at the outpouring of support for Brittney from fans: