WNBA star Brittney Griner pleads guilty in Russia, tells court she brought marijuana into country accidentally

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(Photo: Valery Stepchenkov/TASS / MGN)

(CBS) — WNBA star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty in Russia on Thursday to drug possession and smuggling charges, telling a Moscow court she brought marijuana into the country by accident.

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after Russian officials claimed she had cannabis oil in her luggage. A Russian judge ordered Griner, the Phoenix Mercury center who played in Russia during the WNBA off-season, to remain in custody.

“I would like to plead guilty on the charges against me, but I had no intention on breaking any Russian law,” she said in court. “I was in a rush packing and the cartridges accidentally ended up in my bags.”

The hearing on Thursday saw another witness questioned before Griner pleaded guilty. The WNBA player is expected to give her testimony at a later date and has requested time to prepare for it. The session adjourned until July 14.

If convicted on drug smuggling charges, Griner could face 10 years in a Russian prison.

Griner’s plea could bring the verdict in her case closer, which would then allow her defense team and U.S. officials to trigger proceedings to try and secure her release.

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