Brittney Griner’s Supporters Hold Steady After Guilty Plea

Even after her guilty plea on Thursday, Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner has not lost the backing of her WNBA teammates.

On the second day of her trial in a Russian court, the Phoenix Mercury All-Star pleaded guilty to drug possession charges that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Before Griner’s plea, the odds of her being found guilty were very high.

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Supporters of Brittney Griner Hold Steady

“The WNBPA stands with Brittney Griner. With a 99% conviction rate, Russia’s process is it’s own. You can’t navigate it or even understand it like our own legal system,” WNBAPA Executive Director Terri Jackson said in a statement. “We know that the U.S. State Department determined that Brittney Griner was wrongfully detained for a reason, and we’ll leave it at that.”

Griner told the court through an interpreter that she had packed quickly for Moscow and had not intended to commit any wrongdoing. Finally, on July 14, the trial will resume where it left off.

After entering a guilty plea, Griner told the court that “she had committed this act through negligence, unintentionally,” as her lawyer Maria Blagovolina explained to reporters outside the court near Moscow.

Brittney Griner Guilty Plea
Brittney Griner Guilty Plea

Commissioner Cathy Englebert of the WNBA has issued a statement saying the league will keep working to help secure Griner’s release.

As stated by Englebert, nothing that happened today changes the fact that Brittney Griner has been wrongfully detained in Russia for the past 140 days. The WNBA has been in constant contact with the U.S. State Department, the White House, and other government and non-government partners to facilitate Brittney’s safe and speedy return home.

“She has the wholehearted and unconditional support of the entire WNBA and NBA family, who eagerly await her safe return, and the league will recognize BG as an honorary starter at this weekend’s WNBA All-Star Game.”

While returning to Russia to play basketball, 31-year-old Griner was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport due to the presence of cannabis oil, which was found in vape canisters.

The plea was made a day after President Joe Biden spoke with Griner’s wife, Cherelle, on the phone, assuring her that he is doing everything in his power to secure the immediate release of the two-time Olympic gold medalists.

Agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas thanked the president in a tweet on Thursday after her client, Griner, pleaded guilty.

“Brittney Griner was a courage model today,” Kagawa Colas tweeted. “She deserves our compassion, understanding, love, and support. … We are so grateful to @POTUS and @VP for the time they spent with Cherelle confirming their commitment to bring BG and all Americans home.”

Griner made her plea just before Thursday night’s game against the New York Liberty. With their best friend and teammate locked up in prison on the other side of the world, the Mercury has had a tough time both on and off the court.

After a public rally supporting the 6-foot-9 center, several hundred fans showed up to hear Griner’s WNBA team’s plea. The Phoenix Mercury and Suns’ home court, the Footprint Center, hosted the rally in honor of Griner’s on- and off-court achievements and as a call to action.

One hundred thirty-nine days have passed since my wife has been able to speak to me, to our family, and our friends,” Cherelle Griner said during the rally, stopping to compose herself several times. “I’m frustrated my wife is not going to get justice. I know you all are frustrated, too. That’s why you’re here.”

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