by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News August 4, 2022
WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced by a Russian judge on Thursday to 9 years in prison.
Griner was found guilty of drug possession and drug smuggling with criminal intent. The judge fined her 1 million rubles, roughly $16,300 U.S. dollars, in addition to sentencing Griner to just shy of the maximum 10 years that she could have received.
The judge rejected the WNBA star’s emotional apology and plea for leniency for the “honest mistake” of bringing less than a gram of cannabis oil into the country last February.
Elizabeth Rood, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, called the ruling a “miscarriage of justice.”
Joe Biden called Griner’s 9-year sentence “unacceptable” and pledged to “work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue” to bring her home.
“I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” Biden added.
In her statement to the judge at the end of closing arguments on Thursday, Griner apologized to her family, her teammates and her Russian club for “the embarrassment I brought on them.”
“I never meant to hurt anybody,” she said. “I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population. I never meant to break any laws here. I made an honest mistake and I hope that, in your ruling, that it doesn’t end my life here. I know that everybody keeps talking about political pawns and politics, but I hope that is far from this courtroom. I want to say again that I had no intent of breaking Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime.”
Last Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to urge him to accept the U.S.’s “substantial proposal” to secure the release of Griner and Paul Whelan, another American whom the government considers wrongfully detained.
Blinken denied reports that Biden has signed off on trading Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year sentence in an Illinois federal prison for conspiring to kill Americans and sell weapons to Colombian terrorists.