US Basketball Player Brittney Griner Sentenced to 9 Years in Russian Prison

A Russian court sentenced American basketball player Brittney Griner to nine years and six months in prison for drug smuggling and possession on August 4, Russian state media reported.

Time spent by the athlete in pre-trial detention would be included in the sentence, according to TASS. The prosecutor asked that Griner be fined one million rubles, TASS reported, or about $16,000.

In a statement published on Thursday, US President Joe Biden called on Russia to release the “wrongfully detained American.” He said, “My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.” Paul Whelan is a former United States Marine imprisoned in Russia on charges of espionage.

Griner, 31, an eight-time WNBA All-Star, was detained by Russian Customs Service in February after arriving from New York at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. Russian authorities said Griner was in possession of vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis.

This footage was published by Russian defense ministry-run channel Zvezda. Credit: Zvezda News via Storyful

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