basketball star Britney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian courtroom on Thursday, but not before receiving a memo from President Joe Biden.
With the hope that a guilty plea might be his best bet a lenient sentence In what experts fear was a sham trial, the WBNA player admitted transporting hash oil to Russia by accident because she was in a hurry when packing.
“Brittney sets an example of courage. She has decided to take full responsibility for her actions because she knows she is a role model to many people,” read a statement from Griner’s Russian legal team, Maria Blagovolina from the Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin law firm and Alexander Boykov from the Moscow Law Center.
“Given the nature of his case, the insignificant amount of BG’s substance and personality, and his history of positive contributions to world and Russian sport, the defense hopes that the plea will be considered by the court as a circumstance. mitigating and that there will be no serious sentence,” the lawyers said.
Lawyers said they expect Griner’s trial to conclude around early August.
grinner has been detained in Russia for more than four months after authorities said they found small amounts of hash oil in vape pens in his luggage.
“Brittney has admitted to making a mistake, and I hope the Russian authorities recognize this humiliating act and respond with compassion,” Reverend Al Sharpton said in a statement released by Griner’s team.
Sharpton, Cherelle, Britney’s wife, and WNBA players will rally Friday in Chicago to demand his release.
They fear Griner, who faces a maximum sentence of 10 years, could be used as bargaining chip by Moscow against Washington amid fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“She’s in the fight of her life right now, which is why we’ll be in Chicago to show our support for Brittney and the administration and their efforts to get her home as soon as possible,” Sharpton said. . “We must all continue to pray that she finds strength through this difficult time.”
Griner’s guilty plea came a day after Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called Cherelle Griner to offer assurances that his administration is working to free the basketball star.
This call came after Cherelle Griner criticized Biden for not meeting with her to discuss the case.
Upon arriving in court on Thursday, Brittney Griner received a note from Biden that he had previously read to his wife over the phone.
The message was in response to one the basketball player wrote to the president on July 4, pleading for freedom.
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, my family, my friends, my Olympic jersey or any achievement, I am terrified of be here forever,” Griner wrote.