WNBA Player Brittney Griner Sentenced To 9 Years In Jail After Russian Drug Trial Verdict

Biden called the verdict "unacceptable."

Global Staff Writer
WNBA player Brittney Griner.

WNBA player Brittney Griner.

American WNBA player Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison on Thursday by a Russian court, following a trial that convicted her of drug possession.

The basketball player was detained by Russian authorities at an airport close to Moscow in February. She was carrying a vape cartridge containing cannabis oil in her luggage while travelling play club basketball, reported BBC.

Griner, 31, admitted to possessing cannabis oil but told the court that she made an "honest mistake."

The two-time Olympic gold medalist, considered one of the best female basketball players in the world, listened to the court with a "blank" face as they gave her close to maximum sentencing, reported CTV News.

In addition to the jail time, Griner was also fined one million rubles, equivalent to around US $16,700 (CA $20,700).

Her case became even more high-profile because of the war on Ukraine, which led to growing tension between the U.S. and Russia.

Her agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas thinks the diplomatic conflict between the two countries is being considered a factor in the rather harsh sentencing.

Before the ruling was announced, a tearful Griner turned to the court and pleaded for them to be reasonable with their sentencing.

"I made an honest mistake, and I hope in your ruling, it does not end my life," said Griner. "I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime."

She added that she did not "plan to smuggle anything into Russia," despite being aware that cannabis was outlawed in the country.

According to CTV News, president Joe Biden called the sentencing "unacceptable".

Biden has been facing increasing pressure from supporters and Griner's family to bring her home since her arrest six months ago, reported Reuters.

More than 1,100 Black female leaders have urged the Biden administration to "make a deal to get Brittney back home swiftly and safely and to meet with Brittney's wife Cherelle immediately."

Griner even sent a personal appeal to the President.

"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," said Biden. "It's unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates."

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