Basketball player Brittney Griner faces drug abuse charges in Russian courts. The Phoenix Mercury WNBA player was arrested at a Russian airport in February after finding cartridges of cannabis oil in her luggage, according to NBC New York. Griner was then taken to a pre-trial detention center where she awaited the start of her trial, which was delayed by months because of the Russian investigation. Under Russian law, Griner faces up to 10 years in prison.
After the trial finally began, Griner pleaded guilty in court, but legal experts believe it was the wisest option for the basketball player in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence. Also, due to U.S.-Russia tensions over Russia’s war in Ukraine, there are concerns that Griner could be used as a political pawn, and many in the U.S. are campaigning to free her from prison, according to the New York Post . On May 3, Griner was classified by the US government as a “wrongly detained” Russian prisoner, according to ESPN.
Now, Griner’s new court testimony gives us more details about the circumstances of her arrest.
Brittney Griner got lost in translation during her arrest
When it came time for Brittney Griner to testify in court, she insisted that there was no criminal intent in putting the cannabis cartridges in her suitcase. The Russian court held Griner in a cage after her lawyers’ request to leave the cage was denied, according to the AP. On the witness stand, Griner claimed that she was unaware of the cannabis at the airport. “I still don’t understand to this day how they ended up in my pockets,” Griner testified, per CNN.
Then the basketball player explained that when she was arrested at Moscow airport, she was allegedly forced to sign official papers while she only had a translation app on her phone to understand what they were saying. Also, Griner was initially not provided with a lawyer. And when she was interrogated, Griner claimed that her assigned translator wouldn’t translate everything she said. “I remember once he got stacks of papers for me to translate and he looked at them for a brief moment and [said]: ‘Basically, you’re guilty,'” she recalled.
Though we don’t know much about her treatment at the Russian detention center, before testifying, Griner was able to wish her wife Cherelle luck on the bar exam out of prison. Regarding the government’s response, a US Embassy member assured the AP that they “will continue to monitor very closely the case of Ms. Griner, as well as the case of all US citizens detained or detained in Russia.” ”