Russian Sentences Griner To Nine Years

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Griner holds a picture of her basketball team as she stands inside the defendants' cage before Thursday's court hearing outside Moscow
Griner holds a picture of her basketball team as she stands inside the defendants' cage before Thursday's court hearing outside Moscow

Brittney Griner has been convicted by a Russian Court of drug possession and smuggling and sentenced to nine years in prison. The professional basketball star has also been fined 1 million rubles, or $16,590.

The verdict doesn’t come as a surprise. It was expected that Griner would be found guilty and not be given a fair trial. 

The length of Griner’s stay in prison will ultimately be determined by diplomatic talks between Russia and the United States. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week, asking for Griner and another American detainee to be released.

According to CNN, the Biden administration has offered to exchange convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout as part of a prisoner swap for Griner and Paul Whelan. Whelan is former Marine who was arrested in Moscow on espionage charges four years ago.

President Joe Biden released a statement condemning the verdict.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” Biden said in a statement.

“My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”

Griner was arrested on Feb. 17 at an airport in Moscow for having less than one gram of cannabis oil in her luggage. 

“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said in the Khimki city courthouse, via CNN. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom.

“I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime.”


Griner holds a picture of her basketball team as she stands inside the defendants' cage before Thursday's court hearing outside Moscow

Photo: POOL via AFP / EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA

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