American WNBA star Brittney Griner was convicted in a Russian court Thursday of smuggling drugs with criminal intent, amid concerns she is being used as a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Griner could face up to 10 years in jail for the charge, and prosecutors asked for 9.5 years in closing arguments.
Prior to the verdict, Griner apologized to the court and asked for leniency in an emotional speech.
“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said in the Khimki city courthouse. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom.
“I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime,” she added.
The verdict comes about six months after the 31-year-old was arrested at a Moscow airport and accused by Russian prosecutors of trying to smuggle less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in her luggage. She faces up to 10 years in prison.
Source : CNN