If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
KHIMKI, Russia (AP) ó A judge in Russia convicted American basketball star Brittney Griner of drug possession and smuggling Thursday and sentenced her to nine years in prison. for drug possession and smuggling.
Judge Anna Sotnikova said the time Griner has served in custody since her arrest in February would count toward the sentence.
Griner reacted to the sentence with little emotion. She listened to the verdict from the defendantís cage, a blank stare on her face.
While recapping the evidence and giving her findings Thursday, the judge said the 31-year-old Griner illegally brought drugs into Russia.
Before the unusually quick verdict was announced, Griner made a final appeal to the court. She said she had no intention to break the law by bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oil into the country when she flew to Moscow in February to play basketball in the city of Yekaterinburg.
Attention now turns to the possibility of a high-stakes prisoner swap that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken proposed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Under the proposed deal, Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would go free.
Russian officials have remained poker-faced about a possible deal and chafed at U.S. statements about the case, saying a possible deal should be discussed through ìquiet diplomacy without releases of speculative information.î
U.S. President Joe Biden issued a statement on the verdict that referred to Griner as ìwrongfully detained,î a designation that Russian officials have bristled at.
ìToday, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. Itís unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,î Biden said.
Earlier in the session, with a conviction all but certain, an emotional Griner made a final appeal to the court for leniency. She said she had no intention to break the law by bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oil when she flew to Moscow in February to play basketball in the city of Yekaterinburg.
ìI want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them,î Griner said, her voice cracking.