WNBA star Brittney Griner testified in a Moscow court on Wednesday that her rights were not read to her during her arrest and that she did not receive proper translation services during the investigation.
Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury but competes in Russia during the WNBA offseason, has been detained in Russia since February after authorities said they found vape cartridges with hash oil in her luggage.
She pleaded guilty to drug charges in early July — a move that could grant her a more lenient sentence — but contended that there was no criminal intent on her part.
In her testimony on Wednesday, Griner said she was neither informed of her rights nor given access to a lawyer when customs officials took her into custody, the Associated Press reported. She testified that a translator instructed her where to go but did not tell her what was happening, the Washington Post reported. She was also made to sign documents without explanation, she said.
Griner said she sat through hours of court proceedings that she did not understand. She also testified that she did not receive proper translation services during the monthslong investigation into her charges.
"I remember one time there was a stack of papers that [the translator] needed to translate for me," she said, according to the Washington Post. "He took a brief look and then said the exact words were, 'Basically, you are guilty.'"
Griner said that she was still recovering from COVID-19 when she made the 13-hour flight from Arizona to Moscow, the Associated Press reported. She said she did not know how the hash oil got into her luggage but acknowledged that she was stressed out and had packed her bags in a hurry for the trip.
She admitted to having hash oil in her luggage but asserted that she had no intention of breaking Russian law.
"As they ended up in my bags by accident, I take responsibility, but I did not intend to smuggle or plan to smuggle [illegal substances] to Russia," she said.
Griner also said she takes cannabis oil prescribed by her doctor to help with pain from injuries she's sustained playing basketball over the years.
The US State Department said in May that Griner was "wrongfully detained," and her supporters have called for the administration to bring her home.
Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, has said she is being used as a "political pawn." In a letter to President Joe Biden earlier this month, Griner asked him not to forget about her and other US detainees in Russia.
"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.
If convicted in a Russian court, Griner faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.