Basketball star Brittney Greiner pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian court on Thursday, but not before being handed a note from President Joe Biden.
In hopes that a guilty plea might be a better punishment for a lenient sentence than what experts fear is a sham trial, the WBNA player admitted to accidentally taking hashish oil to Russia because she was in a hurry to pack it.
“Britney sets an example of courage. She decided to take full responsibility for her actions because she is known to many as a role model,” read a statement from Griner’s Russian legal team, Rybalkin Gortsunyan Daikin and Maria Blagovolina, Alexander Boykov of the Moscow Legal Center.
“Considering the nature of her case, the small amount of substance and the history of BG’s personality and positive contributions to global and Russian sports, the defense hopes that the court will consider the plea as a mitigating factor and there will be no harsh punishment,” the lawyer said.
Attorneys said they expected Griner’s trial to conclude in early August.
Greiner has been detained in Russia for more than four months after authorities say they found a small amount of hash oil in vape pens in her luggage.
“Brittney has admitted to wrongdoing and I hope the Russian authorities will recognize that humble act and respond with compassion,” the Rev. Griner said in a statement sent by the team. Al Sharpton said.
Sharpton, Britney’s wife Cherelle and WNBA players will call for her release Friday in Chicago.
Griner, who faces a maximum sentence of 10 years, is feared to be being used by Moscow as a bargaining chip 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’re here in Chicago to show our support for Britney and the administration and our efforts to bring her home as soon as possible,” Sharpton said. “We must all continue to pray that she finds strength during this challenging time.”
Griner’s guilty plea came a day after Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called Cherelle Griner to assure them that their administration was working to free the basketball star.
That call came after Cherelle Griner criticized Biden for not meeting with her to discuss the case.
As she arrived in court Thursday, Britney Greiner was handed a note from Biden that she had previously read to his wife over the phone.
The message was given in response to the basketball player’s letter to the President on July 4, begging for freedom.
“I’m sitting here in a Russian prison, with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or any achievements, I fear I could be here forever,” Greiner wrote.