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What Is Next For Brittney Griner

By: Tye Richmond

The Brittney Griner saga continues, according to CNN article “Two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist Brittney Griner has pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian court near Moscow”

Griner, whom the US State Department has classified as wrongfully detained, faces up to 10 years in prison under the charge. Supporters of the Phoenix Mercury player have called for her release over fears she is being used as a political pawn amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Griner was arrested in February at a Moscow airport after Russian officials say they found cannabis oil in her luggage. The basketball star, who plays in Russia during the WNBA’s offseason, has been held since then on drug smuggling charges. Her trial began last week.

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner said in English, according to Reuters, which was then translated into Russian for the court.

In an USA Today article it states, Jamison Firestone, an attorney, Russian legal expert and one of the main proponents of the Magnitsky Act, the 2012 law that allows the U.S. government to sanction human rights violators, believes that admitting guilt could possibly allow the Russians to show Griner leniency.

The decision to plead guilty was made by Griner alone, a source close to her said. But in recent weeks, Griner, her family, lawyers and experts had discussed this decision extensively. Given the 99% reported conviction rate in Russian criminal cases, Griner was urged to weigh all the factors, including a plea that could ultimately result in a shorter sentence.

Some have speculated Griner could be released and returned to the US in a prisoner swap, as was Trevor Reed, an American veteran detained in Russia for three years before his release in April.

As months have gone by and this situation has unraveled, it looks likely that Brittney is going to serve some time. Even though what she did seems small to us in the United States, with the political climate the way it is, she could be being used as a pawn.

Noone knows how much of the 10 years she is expected to serve, but with the trail started we should know the verdict and the aftermath of this case very soon.

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