US basketball star pleads guilty to drug charges in Russia

MOSCOW, 8 July 2022:

US basketball player Brittney Griner yesterday pleaded guilty to drug possession and smuggling offences at a court in Moscow.

The two-time Olympic champion was detained on Feb 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after customs officials found cannabis oil in her luggage.

Griner, who plays for UGMK Yekaterinburg, admitted to all the charges but said that she did not intend to commit a crime, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

The 31-year-old explained in court that she only brought the cannabis oil into the country because she had packed her bags in a hurry.

The next hearing is scheduled to take place on July 14. She faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years if found guilty.

Russia and the US have reportedly been in talks over an exchange of Griner for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the US.

Earlier this year, Moscow agreed to release US student Trevor Reed in exchange for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was sentenced to 20 years for drug smuggling in the US.