Brittney Griner Sentenced To Nine Years In Russian Prison, US Working To Bring Her Home Sooner
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
Brittney Griner has been convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court on drug possession and smuggling charges.
The professional basketball star has also been fined 1 million rubles, or $16,590.
The verdict doesn’t come as a surprise. Experts expected that Griner would be found guilty and not be given a fair trial due to strained relations between Washington and the Kremlin due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The length of Griner’s stay in prison will ultimately be determined by diplomatic talks. 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.
“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.”
“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.
“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.”
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