U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner Sentenced to Jail for 9 Years in Russia

U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner Sentenced to Jail for 9 Years in Russia.

Following a politically charged trial amid escalating tensions between Moscow and Washington over Ukraine. It could result in a high-stakes prisoner exchange between the two major world powers.

American basketball star Brittney Griner was found guilty of drug possession on Thursday and given a nine-year prison sentence in Russia.

The two-time U.S. Olympic champion and eight-time all-star for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, Brittney Griner, 31, listened blankly as an interpreter interpreted the judge’s decision. Additionally, the court imposed a 1 million ruble ($16,000) punishment.

“I never intended to harm anybody, endanger the Russian people, or break any Russian laws. However, I made a genuine error, and I hope your decision won’t end my life in this place.

“Earlier on Thursday, Griner apologized to her family, teammates, supporters, and the Russian people in front of the court.

U.S. President Joe Biden criticized the judgment and punishment as “unacceptable.”

Biden said, “I urge on Russia to free her immediately so she may be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” and he pledged to keep working on extraditing Griner and Paul Whelan, an American who is currently detained in Russia on charges of espionage.

“I love my family,” Griner said to the media as the court led her after the judgment. However, her attorneys said she was angry, anxious, and unable to speak.

An emotional Griner made a last-ditch plea for mercy to the court earlier in the session, knowing that he would almost certainly be found guilty.

She said that when she traveled to Moscow in February to play basketball in Yekaterinburg, she had no intention of breaking the law by taking vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.

With her voice breaking, Griner stated, “I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans, and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for the error that I committed and the shame that I caused them. I also want to express my regrets to my parents, my brothers, the Phoenix Mercury organization from my native country, the fantastic WNBA players, and my wonderful husband.

The 31-year-old Griner might spend up to 10 years in jail under Russian law, but judges have a lot of discretion in their decisions.