Moscow — American basketball star Brittney Griner, who was imprisoned on Thursday, pleaded guilty to possession of drugs and smuggling during a trial in Moscow, but said he did not intend to commit a crime, Russian news outlets said. I reported.
The report quoted Grinner as saying through an interpreter at a hearing that he acted unintentionally because he was packing in a hurry.
Greener was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow in February after an arc canister containing hemp oil was found in his luggage. If she is convicted of a large transport of drugs, she will face up to 10 years in prison.
The Phoenix Mercury star and two Olympic gold medalist trials began last week with growing calls for Washington to do more to secure its freedom, about five months after its arrest.
Prior to the hearing on Thursday, Russian police escorted Greener in a bright red T-shirt and sports trousers, handcuffed to court, past a crowd of journalists.
The athlete was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow in February after an arc canister containing hemp oil was found in his luggage. If she is convicted of a large transport of drugs, she will face up to 10 years in prison.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned Thursday that “the US side is trying to make a public noise … it doesn’t help in a practical solution to the problem.”
The White House said President Joe Biden called Grinner’s family on Wednesday and is doing everything he can to get the athlete’s release as soon as possible. They spoke after Biden read the letter from Greener.
Washington has not disclosed its strategy in this case, and the United States may have little to do with Moscow due to the strong hostility of Russia’s military action in Ukraine. The State Department has designated Greener as illegally detained and has moved her case under the supervision of a special presidential envoy on hostage issues, effectively the government’s head of hostage negotiations.
Asked about the possibility that Grinner could be exchanged for a Russian imprisoned in the United States, Ryabkov, a senior Russian diplomat, said, “Formal or procedural reasons to talk about further steps until after her trial. No, “he said.
U.S. criticisms, including an explanation that Grinner was unfairly detained and negatively commented on Russia’s judicial system, “makes it difficult to engage in a detailed discussion of possible exchanges,” he said. Warned.
“The U.S. government has described those sentenced to imprisonment for serious criminal articles, and those awaiting the end of the investigation and court ruling, as” unfairly detained, “as Washington describes the outside world. It reflects the refusal of his calm view. Ryabkov snapped.
The Phoenix Mercury star and two Olympic gold medalist trials have been postponed after the start of last week due to the absence of two scheduled witnesses. Such delays are common in Russian courts, and her detention has been approved until 20 December, suggesting that the proceedings may last for several months.
Russian news media have repeatedly speculated that Grinner could be exchanged for the Russian weapons merchant Victor Bout, who is known as the “merchant of death.” Terrorist organization.
Russia has instigated the release of Bout for many years. However, a major discrepancy between Grinner’s alleged crime and the global trade in Bout’s deadly weapons could make such an exchange unpalatable to Washington.
Others have suggested that a spy conviction, which the United States has repeatedly described as a setup, could be traded with former Marines and security chief Paul Weeran, who have been sentenced to 16 years in Russia. There is.
Russia is showing no signs of retreat.
“This is a serious crime and confirmed by indisputable evidence … Attempts to present the case as if the Americans were illegally detained cannot be withstood,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev said. Said on Wednesday.
“It’s against the law and discussions about the innocent nature of Greener’s addiction, by the way, are punished in some US states, but in this case it’s inappropriate,” he said.