vape cart jailed in Russia 10 years
vape cart jailed in Russia 10 years

WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty in Russia, Faces Up to 10 Years in Prison for Vape Cartridge

Will the WNBA legend actually serve 10 years in a Russian jail?

Posted by:
Joseph Billions on Monday Jul 11, 2022

vape cartridge russia 10 years Brittney Griner

WNBA star player Brittney Griner entered a guilty plea for possession of cannabis oil on day 2 of her intently watched trial in Russia, where she is now faced with a prison sentence of up to 10 years. The focus now is on if Moscow and Washington can reach an agreement toward her release, and the release of other American inmates in the country, in the middle of the profound diplomatic woes over the ferocious war on Ukraine by Kremlin.


According to a news reporter present in the courtroom, Griner said to the judge that she'd like to plead guilty. She then added that there was no intent, and she didn't want to break the law. Griner then requested to give her testimony on a later day, saying she required some time to get ready, and the court was adjourned.



Last week in an indictment, Russian customs officials stated that two vape cartridges were found in Griner's baggage in February at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, a week prior to Russia's Ukraine invasion.


Russian media reported that Griner informed the court that she was in a hurry when she packed and the vape cartridges got into her baggage accidentally. Griner's lawyer said employees of the airport who witnessed the search of the bags testified for the prosecution.


Griner was in Russia playing basketball, as many female pro players do overseas, to increase her earnings while sustaining her skills in the offseason.


Ryabkob indicated that the Russian side was open to negotiation as soon as Griner's case was over, stating that they have a long-standing method for debating these matters. Obviously, the required judicial processes are yet to be complete. Until they are, there are no formal, nominal, procedural grounds for any more steps at all, stated Ryabkov.



A Russian head official had earlier indicated that until the case has been completed, no moves could be made on a prisoner swap.


Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Sergei Ryabkov claimed the pressure from the U.S. for a prisoner swap was not aiding the chances of Griner's release. Ryabkov talked to journalists prior to the court convening. Ryabkov stated that the attempts by the American side to make noise and create hype in public are understandable but provide no practical assistance in resolving the issue.


The United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, stated that the U.S. wouldn't give up putting efforts towards releasing Griner and other Americans imprisoned in Russia, like ex-Marine Paul Whelan. He tweeted that they will not relax until Paul Whelan, Brittney, and other wrongfully imprisoned Americans return with their loved ones.

Elizabeth Rood, Deputy chief of mission at Moscow's U.S. Embassy, gave Griner a letter from the U.S President and talked with her briefly about how she was faring in prison.

In an email to The Washington Post, Rood wrote that Griner said she is eating well, able to read books, and that she's doing well considering the circumstances. Rood said what was most important was that she delivered a letter to Griner from the president, and Griner read the letter. Rood added that the government of the United States at the very highest levels is devoted to returning Ms.Griner and other U.S. citizens imprisoned wrongfully home safely.




Though it's still unclear when the sentencing of Griner will be, the trial will continue on July 14. Maria Blagovolina, one of Griner's lawyers, said to The Post that they are anticipating a fairly swift completion of the trial in no more than another three to five sessions.

She added that they hope the admission of guilt will sway the court to hand down a more lenient sentence, and they will request that.


Ivan Pavlov, a well-known Russian human rights lawyer, who had to leave the country in September, stated that normally, Russian courts were less harsh in cases where there is a confession of guilt.


He said, however, that this case is largely political, which could translate to a harsher sentence. He said he believes they will be attempting to increase the price as much as possible and that they will hand her a maximum sentence to make the other side react.

This is because if she is handed a light sentence, it will be difficult to get the other side interested in negotiations.


The arrest of Griner was made amidst intense tensions between Moscow and Washington, which have just gotten stronger as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. As diplomatic endeavors to prevent the war broke down in January, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow alerted Americans against any visits to Russia.



In a statement from the White House, it was said that Griner was detained under intolerable circumstances. That statement was made after President Biden, and Vice President Harris called Cherelle, Griner's wife, to assure her that they were doing all they could to secure the release of Brittney Griner and that of Paul Whelan.


Whelan, a security consultant, has been in prison since December 2018. He had gone to Moscow for a friend's wedding when he was detained in his hotel room and given a 16-year sentence after being found guilty of spying in a secret trial. According to the Detroit News, Whelan's sister Elizabeth Whelan stated that the family was shocked that Biden contacted Griner's wife but did not call them.


Griner wrote to the president recently, begging him not to forget her and other inmates, saying she is terrified she might be there forever.



The case of Brittney Griner seems more complicated than your typical case of cannabis possession overseas. Even after pleading guilty (which is said to elicit a lenient judgment in Russian courts naturally) and declaring her lack of intent to break the law, there is a belief that the arrest and case are more political than normal and could be used for negotiation purposes. That is due to the tension between Russia and America, which is fueled by the war on Ukraine by Russia.





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