Nine years imprisonment for American basketball player Brittney Griner; after being convicted of drug trafficking and possession.
A Russian court on Thursday sentenced American basketball star Britney Griner to nine years in prison for drug trafficking, a harsh sentence that President Joe Biden deemed “unacceptable” and set the stage for a possible prisoner exchange between Washington and Moscow.
The Phoenix Mercury player, one of the world’s best basketball players, was arrested in February in Moscow just before Russia invaded Ukraine with electronic cigarette packaging containing Indian cannabis liquid and fell into the trap of the geopolitical crisis between the United States and Russia.
Her trial had accelerated in recent days at a time of negotiations between the two countries over an exchange of detainees that might include Grainer. Washington had recently confirmed in that context that it had made a “generous” offer to Moscow.
Judge Anna Sotnikova declared the “court found the detainee guilty” of drug possession and smuggling, according to an AFP journalist who attended the hearing in Khimki court near Moscow.
The judge continued that Griner had been sentenced to “nine years’ imprisonment in a prison complex” and a fine of 1 million roubles (approximately 16 thousand euros at the current exchange rate).
Biden condemned the ruling in a statement issued immediately after the verdict’s announcement that “this is unacceptable and I call on Russia to release her immediately so that she can join her partner, loved ones, friends and teammates,” stressing his determination to “work tirelessly” to bring her back to the country.
For their part, the sports lawyers announced that they would appeal the “totally unreasonable” sentence.