Brittney Griner trial latest: WNBA star pleads guilty to Russia drug smuggling charges as Kim Kardashian backs case

Brittney Griner’s wife says she will not be quiet any more

More than four months after her arrest in Moscow, US women’s basketball star Brittney Griner has returned to court for the continuation of her trial for drug charges.

The two-time Olympian was led into court at Khimki City in handcuffs, clutching a photo of his wife Cherelle. She was joined by her lawyers and US embassy staff. Only a few journalists are permitted in court.

The charges against her include intentionally transporting narcotics. Facing up to 10 years in prison in Russia, Griner pleaded guilty but added her there was no attempt to break the law and she had packed in a hurry. She is hoping for leniency from the court.

Griner will give testimony later with the next court hearing scheduled for 14 July. Elizabeth Rood of the US Embassy was able to speak with her in court and share with her a letter from President Joe Biden.

A center for the Phoenix Mercury, Griner had played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia during the WNBA off-season, Griner was arrested when Russian airport security said they found vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage.

Russian officials have said Griner can seek clemency or appeal after any verdict is handed down.


Everything we know about the Russian prison where Brittney Griner is being held

New York Times reported on Thursday that Ms Griner is in the Correctional Colony No. 1 outside of Moscow, a former orphanage rebuilt a decade ago to serve as a prison for women awaiting trial and women serving their sentences. The Russian government has not confirmed Ms Griner’s whereabouts of her.

The Times reported that the facility is artificially lit, with “gray painted halls and grim tall walls” and that Ms Griner is also not the only foreign national held at the facility known as IK-1 for drug possession in recent years.


Griner ‘only playing’ in Russia due to gender pay gap, says US teammates

Basketball star Brittney Griner – who appeared in a court in Moscow this week – was only playing in Russia because of the low wages paid to women athletes in the US, which her friends and colleagues say make it tough to make a living.

Griner, 31, who was brought to a court in the Moscow suburb of Khimki in handcuffs, has been charged with drug smuggling after she was arrested at an airport allegedly carrying cannabis oil in her luggage. She faces up to ten years in jail if convicted.

Her supporters say she is the victim of wrongful arrest and have called on President Joe Biden and others to press for her release. She was detained one week before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Her wife, Cherelle Griner, told CNN she’s struggled to keep her composure, while urging the US authorities to do more.

Andrew Buncombe has more.


ICYMI: Mercury hold public rally in support of Brittney Griner

They shared laughs, smiles, memories. There were also tears, fears, unite.

Through the range of emotions, one common thread bonded them together: Brittney Griner.

Wearing “BG” shirts and holding signs, several hundred fans gathered for a public rally in support of Griner on Wednesday, hoping their sentiments would reach the WNBA player 6,000 miles away in a Russian jail cell.


What has Russia said about the arrest of Brittney Griner?

Russia has defended the arrest of US women’s basketball star Brittney Griner, pushing back on claims by the Biden administration that her detention in the country is “illegal”.

In a statement, Russian authorities said 31-year-old Ms Griner was detained by Moscow police in February based on “objective facts and evidence”.

“She was caught red-handed while trying to smuggle hash oil,” the statement, issued by Russia’s foreign ministry to CNN, said. “In Russia, this is a crime.”


Megan Rapinoe wear tribute to Griner at Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony

Megan Rapinoe wore a powerful tribute to WNBA star Brittney Griner while attending the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony this week where she received the nation’s highest civilian honor.

On Thursday, the professional soccer player, 37, and 16 others were presented with the award by President Joe Biden.

Ahead of the ceremony, Rapinoe revealed on her Instagram story that she’d chosen a cream suit jacket with the basketball player’s initials and a flower sewn into the lapel.


Legal experts weigh in on guilty plea strategy

Law & Crime Network‘s legal analysts weigh in on Brittney Griner’s strategy of pleading guilty and whether it could shorten the trial.

Given the opaqueness of the Russian legal system and the geopolitical climate, the panel is not confident and it is unclear whether a guilty plea will impact the overall outcome.


Why is two-time Olympian Brittney Griner detained in Russia?

WNBA star Brittney Griner, 31, has been detained in Russia since February after drugs were allegedly found in her luggage by officials at a Moscow airport.

Her detainment occurred shortly before Russia launched its war in Ukraine, with geopolitical tensions making it undoubtedly more difficult to secure her release.

Graig Graziosi recaps what has happened so far.


Brittney Griner protest t-shirt not allowed on ‘Today’ show report says

TMZ reports that Macy Gray’s performance on NBC’s Today show was supposed to include a protest about Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia, but her keyboard player was told by network bosses it was not going to happen.

Milly Wes was pictured arriving at the network’s studios on Thursday morning in a black t-shirt with the words “FREE BRITNEY GRINER” [sic] emblazoned across the front.

However, when the band appeared on air he was in a plain black t-shirt.

The musician told TMZ he was told to turn the shirt inside out. Macy Gray confirmed that it was planned for him to wear the shirt and that they thought Ms Griner’s situation was really sad.

It is not known what reason was given for the network’s decision.


What is hash oil?

WNBA star Brittney Griner was on her way to Russia to play basketball when customs officials allegedly discovered contraband in her bag.

According to the Russians, Mr Griner allegedly packed hashish oil in her bag, likely in the form of a vape.

It was that discovery that led to her now five month detention in Russia. On 1 July, Ms Griner appeared in Russian court for the first time and faced charges of smuggling less than a gram of hash oil inside her luggage.


Amy Schumer, Kim Kardashian share #FreeBrittneyGriner tag on Instagram

Brittney Griner’s case has attracted the attention of celebrity activists with comedian Amy Schumer, Kim Kardashian, and Lisa Rinna among those appealing for the WNBA star’s freedom.

Schumer posted a screenshot of the two-time Olympian looking shocked as she saw the media waiting for her outside the court during her first pre-trial hearing in Moscow.

The comedian wrote: “Let’s go everybody. This is not okay. #freebrittneygriner now. All hands on deck. Make some noise.”

Fellow actors and celebrities joined her cry for action including Lisa Rinna of The Real Housewives franchise, with an enthusiastic: “Yes!!!!!! We need to get her out of there stat!!!!!”

With today’s court date looming, on Wednesday, Kim Kardashian, who campaigns for prison reform in the US, used Schumer’s original Instagram post adding her own #FreeBrittneyGriner tag, and sent it out to her 323 million followers around the world.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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