Brittney Griner Griner
Brittney Griner Griner
brittney griner wife A Russian court sentences WNBA star Brittney Griner to 9 years on drug charges MOSCOW — A Russian court has found Brittney Griner guilty on drug smuggling and possession charges. The widely expected verdict comes after a monthlong trial and nearly six months after the basketball star was arrested at a Moscow-area airport with cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage.
The judge sentenced Griner to nine years in prison. Her charges carried up to 10 years, and the Russian prosecution had requested a sentence of nine years and six months in a penal colony.The trial’s outcome was not unusual given that Russian criminal courts have a reported conviction rate of 99%. But it appears that Griner’s fate will now be decided in the political arena.
The Biden administration, under public pressure to secure her release, has tried to negotiate with Russia to free her as well as another jailed American, Paul Whelan. Russia has said any potential deal — including a rumored prisoner swap that could see the U.S. release notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout — would have to wait until after the court’s verdict.
In a statement released shortly after the verdict, President Biden called Griner’s sentence “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,” he added. “My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed that pledge in a statement of his own, in which he said the court’s decision “puts a spotlight on our significant concerns with Russia’s legal system and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda, using individuals as political pawns.”
“Russia, and any country engaging in wrongful detention, represents a threat to the safety of everyone traveling, working, and living abroad,” Blinken continued. “The United States opposes this practice everywhere. ”
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, wrote on Twitter that she appreciated the efforts the United States was making to secure the player’s release.
“Today’s sentencing of Brittney Griner was severe by Russian legal standards and goes to prove what we have known all along, that Brittney is being used as a political pawn,” Colas wrote.
Griner admitted to making ‘an honest mistake’
Earlier on Thursday, as the two sides delivered closing remarks, Griner’s defense attorney called for her to be acquitted, or for the court to show leniency in any punishment she’s given. The 31-year-old also spoke on her own behalf.