WNBA player Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony today after being held in a Russian jail since February 2022 over less than a gram of hash oil. The sentence included a fine of 1 million rubles, roughly $16,400 U.S. dollars. Her legal team plans to appeal the sentence.

While those following the case, like ESPN investigative reporter T.J. Quinn, suggested that the ruling was in some ways good news for Griner — “[moving] her essentially closer to coming home” — many decried the harshness of the charge and sentence.

Griner, a star plazer for the Phoenix Mercury who was playing on a Russian team during the WBNA off-season to supplement her income, was charged with “large-scale transportation of drugs” while only carrying two vape cartridges amounting to less than a gram of hash oil. Griner, who pled guilty to the charges on July 7th, has said publicly that it was an “honest mistake.”

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President Joe Biden said following the verdict, “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.”

Elizabeth Rood, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, called the sentencing a “miscarriage of justice.” “Secretary of State Blinken, President Biden’s national security team and the entire American government remain committed to bringing Ms. Griner home safely to her family and friends,” Rood continued.

The U.S. and Russia are in talks to exchange Griner and a detained former U.S. Marine for a Russian prisoner held by the U.S.; according to the New York Times, the issue was discussed last week by U.S. and Russian officials, but “no breakthroughs were reported.”





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