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WNBA star Brittney Griner revealed new concerning details about her arrest and detainment while testifying in Russian court.
More than five months since her arrest, Brittney Griner got to tell her side of the story to a Russian court on Wednesday.
Griner has pleaded guilty to drug smuggling, a charge that could result in up to 10 years in prison. She has admitted to bringing marijuana with her into Russia, but argued it was an accident and that the drugs were not for recreational use but for medical treatment.
“I do understand charges against me, I do take responsibility for them being in my bag, but I didn’t plan on bringing anything to Russia,” she said in court.
Brittney Griner testified in Russian court with concerning details of her arrest
The WNBA star explained that she frantically packed her bags for a 13-hour flight from Arizona to Moscow and then on to Yekaterinburg, where she plays in the Russian Premier League during the WNBA offseason. She was still recovering from COVID-19 at the time and under stress, not realizing that she had two vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage.
When she landed in Moscow, a drug dog apparently alerted on her bag, and she was interrogated by security with the help of an interpreter.
Griner said she was not read her rights, did not have access to her lawyer, and the interpreter did not properly explain what was going on. Officials then made her sign a series of documents without the interpreter detailing exactly what she was signing.
She was eventually able to call her lawyer, but her phone and passport were confiscated, and her lawyers weren’t permitted to talk to her until the next day.
“At that point, it felt like I was being held against my will,” Griner said, per NBC News. “I asked again what’s going on and when can I see my lawyer. I was then told I have to be interrogated.”
In a bid to back up her claims that she had no recreational or trafficking intent, Griner’s lawyers called experts to the stand to discuss the prevalence of medical marijuana, especially among athletes, as a recovery tool. They produced recommendations from Griner’s doctors. They were also able to show that Griner tested negative for marijuana.
At this point, it feels like Griner is more a political pawn than a defendant in a drug case. If the court focuses on the latter, and the strength of the evidence proving this was a minor mistake, then justice will be done and Griner will be fairly released. If not…we’ll have to see.