WNBA star Brittany Griner pleads guilty to drug charges in Russian court

american basketball star Brittany Griner found guilty of drug charges In a Moscow court on Thursday, His lawyers said, As his family and friends stepped in Called on the US government to do more to free him,

Griner, 31, could face up to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking under Russian law. she was detained in february Russian officials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in his luggage.

Griner’s lawyer, Alexander Boikov, said after the hearing that the basketball star admitted that the vape canisters belonged to her, but that she had inadvertently brought them to Russia.

His other lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, said he expected the court’s leniency. Griner’s next hearing is next Thursday.

The trial of the WNBA player on drug charges began last week.

comes after her latest appearance President Joe Biden Griner’s wife that he was working to secure his release as soon as possible. Griner wrote an emotional letter to the president earlier this week, requesting him to bring her home.

His arrest came a few days before Russia launched an invasion of Ukraineand exposed the fuzziness Relations between Washington and Moscow,

The Kremlin has been accused of using Griner as a political pawn, while the Biden administration has said he has been “unfairly detained.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denies that Griner is being arrested as a hostage in Russia.

Griner is a 6-foot-9 native of Houston, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and centerpiece of the Phoenix Mercury. She entered the court on Thursday wearing glasses, red T-shirt and red pants. He was taken into the courtroom in handcuffs before being placed in a white metal cage. Griner was later joined by three US Embassy representatives and their lawyers in the courtroom, which had no TV cameras and only a few journalists were allowed inside.

Griner, who played for a Russian basketball team during the WNBA’s off-season, has not made a public statement since her detention and it is unclear what she says or what about the charges against her. That were the circumstances surrounding his arrest.

Since his trial began, his family, friends and associates have called for the US to do more to bring him home.

His team held a rally in support of him in Phoenix on Wednesday, while the Rev. Al Sharpton urged Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday to arrange for him and a group of faith leaders to meet with Griner in Russia.

White House Says Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris Called Griner’s wife Cherrell Griner on Wednesday to assure him that he is working to ensure Griner’s release as soon as possible. He also read a draft of the letter sent to Griner on Wednesday, according to a readout of the call by the White House.

It came after Griner said handwritten letter addressed Biden earlier this week that she is afraid she could be in a Russian prison forever, asking to do everything she can to bring her home.

In May, the State Department reclassified Griner as “wrongfully detainedand transferred oversight of her case to the presidential envoy for hostage affairs at the State Department.

US officials have said they are working behind the scenes to free him.

Despite speculation in Russian state media in May, Washington has not officially commented on any potential prisoner swaps that Griner would expect. Can be changed For convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the US NBC News was not able to confirm those reports.

There are also questions about whether Griner could be traded with Paul Whelan, another US serving 16 year sentence for spying.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Alexei Zaitsev said Griner had been arrested “for a serious crime, which was confirmed by indisputable evidence.” But he said he was free to file an appeal and seek clemency. Regarding a possible prisoner exchange, he said the court would first have to reach a verdict, which he estimates could take at least a month.

Russian state news agency Tass Cited The foreign ministry said on Thursday that “propaganda and propaganda” in the media and online prisoner exchanges around Americans detained in Russia disrupted talks between Moscow and the US.