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Russian court jails US basketball star for 9 years for drug smuggling

A Russian court on Thursday sentenced US basketball star Britney Griner to nine years in prison for drug smuggling after US President Joe Biden called the sentence “unacceptable.”

Judge Anna Sotnikova said at a trial in Khimki, a Moscow suburb, that the court “convicted the defendant” of smuggling and possession of “massive amounts of narcotics.”

“I love my family,” Griner told journalists after the ruling that saw the 6-foot-9 (2.06 m) athlete abducted by members of Russian law enforcement.

Biden immediately issued a statement, saying the Russian court’s ruling against Griner was “unacceptable.”

“This is unacceptable and we urge Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates.”

Her trial has recently accelerated as the United States and Russia discuss a possible prisoner swap that could involve the basketball star.

The arrests came days before Moscow launched its military intervention in Ukraine.

Prosecutors had previously sentenced the two-time Olympic basketball gold medalist and women’s NBA champion to nine and a half years in prison for drug smuggling.

“I made an honest mistake. I hope your ruling doesn’t end my life here,” Griner said Thursday.

Griner pleaded guilty but said he had no intention of breaking the law or using prohibited substances in Russia.

“The court ignored all of the defense’s evidence and, most importantly, the guilty plea completely,” lawyers Maria Blagovorina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

– “Take BG home” –

Leaders of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) said the player’s ruling was “unjustified and unfortunate, but not unexpected.”

Prosecutor Nikolai Vlasenko sought nine years and six months in prison for Griner, seeking a sentence just short of the maximum sentence of 10 years.

Standing in the defendants’ cage before the hearing began, Griner held up a photo of her with her teammates from her Russian club.

The WNBA star said he has received approval from doctors in the United States to use medical cannabis to relieve pain from a number of injuries.

A prisoner exchange was also discussed in a conference call between Brinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday.

There is no official confirmation that Washington has offered his replacement.

In April, Washington traded former US Marine Trevor Reed for convicted drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko.

first published as Russian court jails US basketball star for 9 years for drug smuggling

Russian court jails US basketball star for 9 years for drug smuggling

Source link Russian court jails US basketball star for 9 years for drug smuggling

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