Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner pleads guilty in Russian court, faces ten years in prison


Lorie Shaull (Flickr)

WNBA and Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner has been imprisoned in Russia since February.

Alex Keeler, Reporter

Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February, pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges on Thursday.  

Griner, who played for a Russian basketball team during the WNBA offseason, was returning to Russia from New York when Russian authorities found marijuana vaping cartridges in her luggage.

In her plea, Griner admits to the wrongdoing, but insists that it was never her intent to break the law. 

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner said in a statement on Thursday. 

If convicted, Griner faces up to ten years in a Russian prison. 

On Monday, President Biden received a letter from Griner, who fears that she may wind up spending the rest of her life behind Russian bars. 

“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner wrote in her letter. 

With acquittal being highly unlikely, Griner’s best chance at freedom may be through a prisoner swap. 

One of the top candidates in a potential prisoner swap is Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer. Bout was given a 25-year sentence in the United States after being convicted of aiding a terrorist organization and conspiracy to kill United States citizens, in 2012.  

However, any chance at a prisoner swap would have to occur after the conclusion of her trial, which is expected to take several months. 

Rebekah Koffler, a Russian-born former US intelligence officer, told Fox News Digital on Wednesday that a prisoner swap would be extremely risky and would “embolden Russia spy services to grab more Americans on their territory who unwittingly break Russian laws.”