(CMR) US basketball star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison after she was found guilty of drug smuggling and cannabis possession in a Russian court on Thursday. She was also fined 1,000,000 Russian rubles, which is just over $US16,000.
Prosecutors sought a.
“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 teammate,”. President Biden said in a statement.
“My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible,” he added.
Griner told the court on Wednesday that she never meant to break any law, adding, “I know everybody keeps talking about ‘political pawn' and ‘politics,' but I hope that is far from this courtroom.”
According to CBS Sports, in July, before her trial, the US State Department argued that Griner was “wrongfully detained” and moved her case to the supervision of its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken communicated with Russian Secretary of State Sergey Lavrov last week and asked him to accept a swap of Griner and Paul Whelan, who is an American currently imprisoned in Russian on charges related to an espionage conviction. Griner and Whelan would be swapped for notorious arms trader Viktor Bout.