Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Russian Drug Charges: 'I Did Not Want to Break the Law'

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Brittney Griner pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of smuggling drugs into Russia, NPR reported.

The WNBA star, 31, said that she did bring cannabis products into the country — where it is considered illegal — but that she was packing quickly and did not mean to break the law, saying she did so "inadvertently."

"I'd like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn't want to break the law," Griner, who pointedly held up a photo of herself and her wife Cherelle as she walked into court, said, according to Reuters.

"I'd like to give my testimony later. I need time to prepare," she added.

Griner faces up to 10 years in prison. Despite her guilty plea, Griner's trial is expected to continue for several weeks or months.

The two-time Olympic medalist and seven-time WNBA All-Star was arrested February 17 at the Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow on allegations that she was in possession of vape cartridges containing hash oil while traveling through the airport.

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Griner was put into a Russian detention center where she has been held for more than four and a half months.

The Phoenix Mercury player first appeared in court for the start of her trial on Friday, when the Russian court accused her of moving a "significant amount" of cannabis oil through the country.

In May, the U.S. State Department classified Griner's arrest as wrongful detainment.

"The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner," a State Department spokesperson said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "The U.S. Government will continue to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner and her family."

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Brittney Griner in Russian court on July 7

On July 4, Griner wrote a letter to President Joe Biden pleading for his help.

"... as I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or any accomplishments, I'm terrified I might be here forever," she wrote.

The White House said Wednesday that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called Cherelle, Griner's wife, to reassure her that they're working to bring the WNBA star home.

Cherelle and others close to Griner have expressed their frustration with the lack of action to get the basketball star out of Russia.

It is likely that Russia will want to set up an exchange to swap Griner with Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer nicknamed the "Merchant of Death" who is currently serving a 25-year U.S. prison sentence for conspiring to sell weapons to people who said they planned to kill Americans. Ivan Melnikov, vice president of the Russian section of the International Human Rights Commission, tells PEOPLE that he believes an exchange of Griner and Bout "is the best option."

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