The detained American basketball star Brittney Griner pleaded responsible to drug prices in a courtroom close to Moscow on Thursday, her lawyer mentioned.
“I’d prefer to plead responsible, your honor. However there was no intent. I didn’t need to break the legislation,” Ms. Griner mentioned in English, which was then translated into Russian, Reuters reported.
Ms. Griner has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17, accused by the Russian authorities of getting a vape cartridge with cannabis oil in her baggage at an airport close to Moscow.
Aleksandr Boikov, her lawyer, mentioned cartridges appeared in Ms. Griner’s baggage “due to carelessness.”
“She pleaded responsible, stressing that she was carrying substances prohibited in Russia unintentionally, as a result of she was packing in a rush,” Mr. Boikov mentioned.
If Ms. Griner is convicted, she may resist 10 years in a Russian penal colony. Ms. Griner nonetheless faces formal conviction and sentencing proceedings, and her subsequent day in courtroom is scheduled to be July 14.
“Contemplating the character of her case, the insignificant quantity of the substance and B.G.’s persona and historical past of optimistic contributions to international and Russian sport, the protection hopes that the plea shall be thought of by the courtroom as a mitigating issue and there shall be no extreme sentence,” Ms. Griner’s authorized group in Russia mentioned in a press release on Thursday.
Her responsible plea got here hours after a high Russian diplomat lashed out on the Biden administration for attempting to “foment hype” round her case.
The Russian diplomat, Sergei A. Ryabkov, the deputy overseas minister, mentioned that the publicity across the case was not serving to Ms. Griner, who American officers say is basically a hostage taken by President Vladimir V. Putin within the run-up to the battle in Ukraine.
Mr. Ryabkov indicated that Moscow could be ready to barter her destiny, however solely after the courtroom reached a verdict on the drug prices that have been introduced towards her.
“We now have a long-established type of discussing these issues,” Mr. Ryabkov instructed reporters on Thursday in Moscow, in keeping with the Interfax information company. “The American aspect’s makes an attempt to foment hype and make noise within the public surroundings are comprehensible, however they don’t assist to virtually resolve points.”
After her trial started final week, Ms. Griner despatched a handwritten letter to Mr. Biden asking him to not “overlook about” her and different American detainees abroad.
Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke on Wednesday with Ms. Griner’s spouse, Cherelle Griner, in keeping with a press release launched by the White Home.
Throughout the name, the assertion mentioned, the president learn a draft of a letter that he deliberate to ship to Brittney Griner. He additionally mentioned that his administration was pursuing “each avenue to deliver Brittney house.”
Talking exterior the courtroom on Thursday, Elizabeth Rood, the chargé d’affaires on the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, mentioned she had spoken to Ms. Griner and she or he had been in a position to learn the president’s letter.
“She mentioned that she’s consuming nicely, she’s in a position to learn books, and beneath the circumstances, she’s doing nicely,” Ms. Rood mentioned, in keeping with a video posted on Twitter by an NPR correspondent. She added: “I would love once more to emphasise the dedication of the U.S. authorities on the very highest stage to deliver house safely Ms. Griner and all U.S. residents wrongfully detained.”
Cherelle Griner has publicly expressed frustration with Mr. Biden and his administration’s efforts to safe her spouse’s launch.
In a press release to The New York Occasions on Wednesday, Cherelle Griner mentioned she was grateful to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris “for the time they spent with me and for the dedication they expressed to getting B.G. house.”
America authorities has categorized Brittney Griner as “wrongfully detained” and is working to safe her launch whatever the end result of the trial. Whereas the Kremlin claims it has no involvement in Ms. Griner’s case, Russian state media experiences have indicated that Moscow might press america to free a Russian in American custody — just like the convicted arms seller Viktor Bout — in change for her freedom.
Mr. Ryabkov mentioned that till the conclusion of Ms. Griner’s case, “there aren’t any formal procedural grounds” to debate additional steps. He hinted, nonetheless, that Moscow was taken with negotiating over her destiny, claiming that she could be helped by “a severe studying by the American aspect of the alerts that they obtained from Russia, from Moscow, by specialised channels.”