Is it really unfair or arrogance? Should we really blame the Russians or Brittney Griner for her drug conviction?
WNBA superstar Brittney Griner has pled guilty to drug charges in Russia and could now possibly face up to 10 years in prison. She allegedly told the Court, that she didn’t intend to break the law but was “in a hurry” and simply packed the illegal substance in her bag. Like much of Ms. Griner’s case, this is another example of either poor legal advice or her arrogance. Marijuana is ILLEGAL in Russia and its actually a banned substance in the WNBA too! Why was she even carrying it!
For some reason, U.S. Officials, including the White House, sports analyst (why are they even commenting on something they don’t understand), and other advocates have issued statements criticizing the Russian government. What is their issue? The blame here remains with Ms. Griner and possible her team advisors who failed to properly inform her on the Russian laws regarding drugs.
There is no evidence to indicate that the Russians planted these drugs on Ms. Griner and she never denied that these were her drugs! Why do people believe she deserves some special treatment because she a professional athlete? Like the U.S. legal system, the Russian legal system has a presumption of innocence. Russian prosecutors would have had to prove Griner guilty of these criminal charges. With that said, it appears that she has little, if any, legal defenses, but this does not mean that the Russian system is unfair or that Ms. Griner should receive some special treatment because of who she is as a professional athlete.
The stop of Ms. Griner at the airport was perfectly legal under the Russian legal system and would also be legal under the U.S. system as well. Ms. Griner would not have a constitutional right against an illegal search and seizure in any airport in the United States. She should have not carried the cannabis in the first place as it is a crime in Russia and appears that cannabis is also banned substance within her professional sports league.
Sports analysts, politicians and her spouse have criticized the Russian government, but she broke the law! Their issue is with the possible punishment but this is simply the Russian system just like carrying a gun without a permit to carry in New Jersey could get you a mandatory state prison despite no prior criminal history! It isn’t unfair, it’s the law, plain and simple!
Many have advocated for her immediate release but if she wasn’t a professional athlete would the U.S. government go out of its way to secure the release of the average citizen arrested and convicted of a drug charge in a foreign country. Under the same theory, if a U.S. court convicted a Russian citizen of drug charges and sentenced him or her to a prison term, would our country let them go simply because they assumed the drugs were legal or the Russian government thought our law was wrong.
I do feel for Ms. Griner but she placed herself in this situation because she didn’t follow the law, arrogantly assumed that the United States could get her home without issue, or simply didn’t bother to check if Marijuana was illegal in Russia. Hopefully, the U.S. government can get her home but she is nevertheless an entitled professional athlete who is only the U.S. government’s radar because of who she is and not because she is a U.S system. This is not a case of unfair or fixed legal proceeding and this should be a lesson to all persons traveling overseas. Don’t assume the laws are the same in other countries!
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