Brittney Griner's Testimony Reveals More Chilling Details About Russian Detention

Basketball player Brittney Griner is facing drug charges in Russia's court system. The WNBA player for the Phoenix Mercury was arrested back in February at a Russian airport for being found with cartridges of cannabis oil in her luggage, per NBC New York. Griner was then put into a detention center where she awaited the start of her trial, which was delayed for months by Russia's investigation. By Russian law, Griner is facing up to 10 years in jail.

After the trial finally began, Griner plead guilty to the court, but legal experts believe this was the smartest option for the basketball player in the hopes of getting a softer sentencing. Plus — due to the tensions between the U.S. and Russia because of Russia's war in Ukraine — there are concerns that Griner could be being used as a political pawn, and many in the U.S. are campaigning to free her from jail, per the New York Post. As of May 3, Griner was classified as a "wrongfully detained" Russian prisoner by the U.S. government, per ESPN.

Now, Griner's new testimony in court is giving us more details about the circumstances around her arrest.

Brittney Griner got lost in translation during her arrest

When it came time for Brittney Griner to testify for the court, she emphasized that there was no criminal intent in her bringing the cannabis cartridges in her suitcase. The Russian court held Griner seated in a cage after her lawyers' request for her to leave the cage was denied, according to the AP. On the stand, Griner maintained that she was unaware of the cannabis at the airport. "I still don't understand to this day how they ended up in my bags," Griner testified, per CNN.

Then, the basketball player explained that when she was arrested in the Moscow airport, she was allegedly made to sign official papers while only having a translation app on her phone to understand what they said. Plus, Griner wasn't initially provided an attorney. And when she was being interrogated, Griner claimed that her assigned translator would not translate everything she said. "I remember one time him receiving stacks of paper that he was supposed to translate to me, and he looked at them for a brief moment and [said]: 'Basically you are guilty,'" she recalled.

While we don't know much about her treatment within the Russian detention center, Griner was able to wish her wife, Cherelle, luck on the bar exam from prison before her testimony. In terms of the government's response, a member of the U.S. embassy ensured the AP that they "are going to continue to monitor the case of Ms. Griner very closely, as well as the case of all U.S. citizens detained or in prison in Russia.”