Russia sentences Brittney Griner, American basketball player, to 9 years in prison; Biden says it’s ‘unacceptable’ | World

The Russian court responsible for the trial of athlete Brittney Griner ruled on Thursday (4) that the WNBA basketball star committed drug possession and smuggling crimes. She will have to serve a nine-year prison sentence.

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Brittney was arrested in February after arriving in Moscow carrying vape cartridges filled with cannabis oil. The 31-year-old athlete is considered one of the best basketball players in the world.

Russia sentences American basketball player Brittney Griner to 9 years in prison

Russia sentences American basketball player Brittney Griner to 9 years in prison

Earlier, the Russian Prosecutor’s Office asked for a nine-and-a-half-year prison sentence for American basketball star Brittney Griner. This is almost the highest possible penalty for the crime, which can be as much as 10 years in prison.

Brittney will also have to pay a fine of 1 million rubles.

Griner pleaded guilty to carelessly transporting the substance to Russia and denied any narcotics trafficking.

On Thursday, the prosecutor said she intentionally tried to hide the cannabis-based liquid from customs officials at the airport.

Brittney Griner during a WNBA match in October 2021 — Photo: Ralph Freso/AP

US even proposed ‘prisoner exchange’

With the conflict in Ukraine, Griner’s trial took on a geopolitical dimension with negotiations between Moscow and Washington on a possible prisoner exchange, which could benefit the athlete.

Last week, US diplomats Antony Blinken said Washington had made a “consistent offer” to Moscow to secure the release of Griner and another American detained in Russia, Paul Whelan.

To guarantee the athlete’s release, the United States proposed to release a Russian convicted of arms trafficking, who is serving a 25-year sentence in the country.

US President Joe Biden said the player’s detention was unfair:

“It is unacceptable, and I urge Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, her loved ones, her friends and her teammates,” Biden said in a statement.

Brittney Griner during a court hearing in Russia — Photo: Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/REUTERS

American basketball player Brittney Griner during a court hearing in Russia – Photo: Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/REUTERS

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