Christian Peterson/Getty Britney Griner
Brittney Griner’s lawyers reveal what prompted the sports star’s decision to plead guilty to drug charges in Russia.
On Thursday, the 31-year-old WNBA star pleaded guilty and said she had brought cannabis products into the country – where it is considered illegal – but was packing quickly and didn’t want to break the law, saying she did it “inadvertently.”
A statement from Brittney’s legal team, Maria Blagovolina of Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Alexander Boykov of the Moscow Legal Center, shared with PEOPLE on Thursday, says her plea “was her decision informed by discussion with her legal defense team in Russia. “.
“Brittney sets an example of courage. She has decided to take full responsibility for her actions because she knows she is a role model for many people,” the statement continued.
His lawyers say that due to “the nature of his case, the insignificant amount of BG’s substance and personality, and the history of his positive contributions to world and Russian sport”, they hope his plea will help. the athlete to avoid a “severe penalty”. “
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Brittney’s trial, which began July 1, is expected to end with sentencing early next month, her legal team adds.
She faces up to 10 years in prison.
Brittney has been detained since her arrest in February. At the time, the two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport after officials found vaping cartridges in her luggage containing hash oil, a substance illegal in Russia.
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The US State Department then officially classified Brittney as wrongfully detained by the Russian Federation. “Our position for some time on this has been very clear. Brittney Griner should not be detained. She should not be detained for one more day,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said during from a press briefing on June 14.
His wife Cherelle Griner recently opened up about how Brittney is doing behind bars, telling Reverend Al Sharpton the two-time Olympic gold medalist is “struggling”.
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“She’s terrified, she’s lonely,” she added on Sharpton’s Keepin’ It Real on SiriusXM.
Cherelle said she knew Brittney was not fully voicing her concerns to shield Cherelle from the truth.
“Because I’m her person she will always try to write convincingly to make sure I don’t break because she knows I’m studying for my bar and she knows I have all these things going and she always tries to be my strong person.”
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Cherelle said Brittney told her she was “toughened up” and not “on her knees right now” and would need time after she got home to pull herself together. “But I’m holding on and won’t crack until I get home,” Brittney wrote in a letter to Cherelle, their only form of communication.
As for how Cherelle is doing, she told Sharpton, “I’m fine, I wish I could say I was better, but until my wife is home, a huge part of me is missing. “