Brittney Griner pleads guilty to Russia, gets Biden memo

Basketball star Brittney Grinner pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian courtroom Thursday, but not before she was handed a note from President Joe Biden.

With the hope that a guilty plea might be her best chance a mild punishment in what experts fear is a sham trial, the WBNA player admitted to accidentally bringing hash oil into Russia because she was in a hurry when packing.

“Brittney sets an example of being brave. She decided to take full responsibility for her actions, knowing that she is a role model for many people,” said a statement from Griner’s Russian legal team, Maria Blagovolina of the firm Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Alexander Boykov of the Moscow Legal Center.

“Given the nature of her case, the insignificant amount of the substance and BG’s personality and history of positive contributions to global and Russian sport, the defense hopes that the plea will be considered by the court as a mitigating factor and that there will not be any serious sentence,” the lawyers said.

The lawyers said they expected Griner’s trial to end around the start of August.

Grinner has been detained in Russia for more than four months after authorities said they found small amounts of cannabis oil in vape pens in her luggage.

“Brittney has admitted to making a mistake, and I hope the Russian authorities recognize the humiliating act and respond with compassion,” the Reverend Al Sharpton said in a statement released by Griner’s team.

Sharpton, Britney’s wife Cherelle and WNBA players will meet on Friday in Chicago to call for her release.

They fear that Griner, who faces a maximum sentence of 10 years, is being used as a bargaining chip by Moscow against Washington amid the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“She’s in the fight of her life right now, and that’s why we want to be in Chicago to show our support for Brittney and for the administration and their efforts to bring her home as soon as possible,” Sharpton said. “We must all continue to pray that she finds strength through this challenging time.”

Griner’s guilty plea came a day after Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called Cherelle Grinner to offer assurances that his administration is working to free the basketball star.

That call came afterwards Cherelle Griner criticized Biden for not meeting with her to discuss the matter.

When she arrived in court Thursday, Brittney Griner was handed a note from Biden that he had previously read to her wife over the phone.

The message was in response to one the basketball player had written to the president on July 4 asking for freedom.

“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or other accomplishments, I fear I may be here forever,” Griner wrote.

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