WNBA star Brittney Griner has been sentenced to nine years behind bars in a Russian prison on charges of smuggling drugs into the country. Wow.
According to The New York Times on Thursday, the judge read the 31-year-old athlete her verdict about an hour after her lawyers and the prosecution presented their closing arguments in the case at a Moscow courthouse. The penalty was just short of the maximum 10-year sentence, which her lawyer called “absolutely unreasonable” and plans to appeal. She has been detained in the country since February 17 after she was accused of having vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.
During the closing arguments, the Phoenix Mercury player gave an impassioned speech about her arrest. The basketball player explained she pled guilty to bringing less than 1 gram of cannabis oil into Russia, but that she did so “inadvertently” and asked the court for leniency. She shared in court, via CNN:
“That’s why I pled guilty to my charges. I understand everything that’s been said against me, the charges that are against me and that is why I pled guilty but I had no intents to break any Russian law.”
President Joe Biden told People that the ruling was “unacceptable,” and his administration is still working on a deal to get Brittney home. He shared:
“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. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”
Paul is another American who has been imprisoned in the country since 2019.
Despite the US government’s attempts to get Brittney home, Russian prosecutors have been fighting for the harshest sentence possible. In their closing arguments, they asked the judge to sentence Griner to nine years and six months in prison and fine her 1 million rubles (or roughly $16,600), the New York Times reported.
Last week, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, revealed the Biden administration offered Russia a “substantial” deal to secure Brittney and Paul’s release, but Russia has not taken it seriously yet. Here’s to hoping they do! Nine years is f**king brutal for a crime she didn’t even realize she was committing — and one that had no negative impact on those around her! We’re thinking of Brittney as well as her wife, Cherelle, and all their family and friends as they continue to deal with this legal ordeal. Reactions, Perezious readers?!