Britney Griner sentenced to prison in Russian court, WNBA star found guilty of drug smuggling

US President Joe Biden has lashed out at Russia after a Russian court sentenced basketball star Britney Griner to nine years in prison.

The two-time Olympic basketball gold medalist and women’s NBA champion who has played for Russia was detained in February, days before Moscow launched its military intervention in Ukraine.

31 year old athlete indicted for drug smuggling To own a vape cartridge containing cannabis oil.

On Friday morning (AEST), the Khimki City Court found Grinner guilty of possession and smuggling charges and sentenced him to nine years in prison.

She was also fined over $23,000.

Judge Anna Sotnikova said that the time Griner was in custody after being arrested would count toward her sentence.

The sentence was just six months shorter than the sentence prosecutors had asked the court to hand down.

Earlier in the day, Griner appealed to court and apologized to the team and family.

She said she had made an “honest mistake” and asked the court to “don’t let my life end.”

“I want the court to understand that this was an honest mistake I made while rushing, under stress, trying to recover from COVID, and get back on the team.

“I know everyone keeps talking about political pawns and politics, but I hope it stays far from this court.

“I made an honest mistake. I hope that by your ruling it doesn’t end my life here.”

Her future now depends on diplomatic negotiations between the United States and Russia.

The White House issued a statement minutes later on behalf of Biden, condemning Griner’s ruling.

“Today, American citizen Britney Griner received a prison sentence as another reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is unjustly detaining Britney,” the statement read. “It is unacceptable. We ask Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, her loved ones, her friends and her teammates.”

Mr Biden vowed to “work tirelessly and do whatever it takes” to get Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges like Griner, home “as soon as possible”.

Griner’s attorney, Maria Blagovolina, confirmed earlier this week that negotiations were taking place behind the scenes, but stressed that Griner’s legal team was not involved.

However, she added that Griner would be eligible for replacement after the verdict.

US Secretary of State Antony Brinken last week held his first meeting with Russian State Secretary Sergey Lavrov since Moscow sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.

Brinken said he had “pressured the Kremlin” to accept a proposal from Washington for the release of Griner and Whelan.

Griner was detained during the US offseason when he came to Russia to play club basketball at UMMC Yekaterinburg.

At the last hearing, Griner said he had no intention of breaking the law or using substances banned in Russia.

first published as American basketball star jailed for nine years in Russia for drug smuggling

Britney Griner sentenced to prison in Russian court, WNBA star found guilty of drug smuggling

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