Basketball star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian courtroom on Thursday, but not before she was handed a note from President Joe Biden.
With the hope that a guilty plea might be her best shot at a lenient sentence in what experts fear is a sham trial, the WBNA player admitted to taking hashish oil into Russia by accident because she had been in a hurry when she packed.
“Brittney sets an example of being brave. She decided to take full responsibility for her actions as she knows that she is a role model for many people,” read a statement from Griner’s Russian legal team, Maria Blagovolina from the firm Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Alexander Boykov from the Moscow Legal Center.
“Considering the nature of her case, the insignificant amount of the substance and BG’s personality and history of positive contributions to global and Russian sport, the defense hopes that the plea will be considered by the court as a mitigating factor and there will be no severe sentence,” the lawyers said.
The attorneys said they expected Griner’s trial to conclude around the start of August.
Griner has been detained in Russia for more than four months after authorities said they found small amounts of hash oil in vape pens in her luggage.
“Brittney has admitted to making a mistake, and I hope the Russian authorities recognize that humbling act and respond with compassion,” Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement passed on by Griner’s team.