WNBA Star Brittney Griner Sentenced to 9 Years in Russian Prison

Russian court found Brittney Griner guilty on drug charges and sentenced the WNBA star to 9 years in prison on August 4.

Her Attorneys Response to the Verdict

Brittney Griner’s legal team has responded to her trial’s “unreasonable” outcome.

More than four months after the WNBA star was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport for allegedly possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, a Russian court found Griner guilty of drug possession and smuggling, in addition to finding her guilty of committing the crime deliberately. At her hearing on Aug. 4, Griner was sentenced to 9 years in prison and received a 1 million ruble fine ($16,000) for conscious drug smuggling and possession.  

Following her sentencing, Griner’s attorneys addressed the ruling.

“We are very disappointed by the verdict,” Griner’s legal team shared in a statement to E! News. “As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality. The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea. This contradicts the existing legal practice. Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is absolutely unreasonable. We will certainly file an appeal.”

Politics Involved

President Joe Biden—who has heard from the 31-year-old through letter correspondence—also shared a few words on Griner’s sentence. 

“Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” a statement shared on Aug. 4 read. “It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA commissioner Adam Silver also spoke out on behalf of their organizations. “Today’s verdict and sentencing is unjustified and unfortunate,” the joint statement shared to social media read, “but not unexpected and Brittany Griner remains wrongfully detained. The WNBA and NBA’s commitment to her safe return has not wavered.”

Prior to the verdict on Thursday, Griner apologized to the court and asked for leniency in an emotional speech. “I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” she said.

“I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that, that is far from this courtroom.”

Today, August 5, The US and Russia have indicated they are ready to hold talks over a prisoner swap.


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