WNBA star Brittney Griner sentenced to 9 years in jail by Russian court

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WNBA star Brittney Griner sentenced to nine years in prison by Russian court

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United States’ Women’s National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball gamer Brittney Griner, who was apprehended at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later on charged with unlawful belongings of marijuana, waits on the decision inside an accuseds’ cage prior to a court hearing in Khimki exterior Moscow, on August 4,2022

Evgenia Novozhenina|AFP|Getty Images

WASHINGTON– A Russian court on Thursday discovered Brittney Griner guilty of drug charges and sentenced her to 9 years in jail, as the U.S. federal government scrambles to protect the WNBA star’s release.

The court likewise fined Griner 1 million rubles ($16,301).

The 31- year-old Griner, who plays expert basketball in Russia throughout the WNBA offseason, was jailed in February at a Russian airport on allegations that she was smuggling vape cartridges with marijuana oil.

Under Russian law, the charge brought a charge of approximately 10 years in jail. During closing arguments, Russian district attorneys asked the court to sentence her to 9 1/2 years in jail and release the 1 million ruble fine.

Griner asked the court for leniency previously Thursday.

“I never meant to hurt anybody,” Griner stated list below closing arguments, according to NBCNews “I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population. I never meant to break any laws here.”

Her attorneys have actually formerly stated Griner just utilizes marijuana clinically and has actually never ever utilized it while in Russia.

Last month, Griner pleaded guilty to the charges however stated she had actually accidentally loaded the marijuana containers in her travel suitcase due to the fact that she remained in a rush.

The court’s choice comes one week after the Biden administration validated it made a deal to the Russian federal government for the release of Griner and previous U.S. Marine PaulWhelan In a declaration Thursday, President Joe Biden called the jail sentence “unacceptable” and required Griner’s instant release.

“It’s unacceptable and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” Biden composed in a declaration.

“My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible,” the president included.

Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed press reporters that the U.S. “put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago” for Griner and Whelan’s release. The leading U.S. diplomat likewise stated he would go over the deal with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in what would be the very first recognized discussion in between the 2 considering that the Kremlin got into Ukraine.

“This is delicate work,” National Security Council representative John Kirby informed press reporters throughout a White House press rundown. “We’ve made a proposal, and we urge the Russians to move positively on that proposal so we can get these two individuals home.”

“The details of it, I think are best left between us and our Russian counterparts,” Kirby stated.

‘I’m horrified I may be here permanently’

United States WNBA basketball super star Brittney Griner stands inside an accuseds’ cage prior to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on July 26,2022

Alexander Zemlianichenko|AFP|Getty Images

Days prior to she pleaded guilty last month, Griner penned a letter to Biden requesting for his direct assist with her case.

“I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” the expert athlete composed in a July 5 letter.

“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and … other American detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home,” Griner composed.

After getting the letter, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called the WNBA star’s spouse, CherelleGriner Biden likewise composed a reaction to Griner that U.S. diplomats hand-delivered in Moscow.

Biden assured her spouse that he is working to protect Griner’s release as quickly as possible, according to a White House readout of the call. He likewise stated on the call that he is working to release Whelan, who is serving a 16- year sentence in Russia.

Whelan was jailed in 2018 on charges of functioning as a spy for the UnitedStates At the time he was jailed, Whelan was checking out Russia to participate in a wedding event, according to his sibling, DavidWhelan

Last month, Biden signed an executive order that will broaden the administration’s offered tools to prevent hostage-taking and the wrongful detention of U.S. nationals.

The executive order, referred to as “Bolstering Efforts to Bring Hostages and Wrongfully Detained United States Nationals Home,” will license the imposition of monetary sanctions and visa restrictions on individuals associated with hostage-taking.

“This executive order reflects the administration’s commitment not just to the issues generally but to the families in particular, and it has been informed by the government’s regular engagements with them,” stated a senior Biden administration authorities last month, who spoke on condition of privacy in order to share information about the brand-new executive order.

In April, Russia consented to launch previous U.S. Marine Trevor Reed in a detainee exchange with the United States.

Reed was implicated of attacking a Russian law enforcement officer and apprehended by authorities there in2019 He was later on sentenced to 9 years in a Russian jail. Reed and his household have actually kept his innocence, and the U.S. federal government explained him as unjustly sent to prison.

For Reed’s release, Biden consented to complimentary Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20- year federal jail sentence for conspiracy to smuggle drug into the United States.

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