Brittney Griner trial: Russian court hands down verdict, sentence in WNBA star’s case

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Brittney Griner, an American basketball celebrity and Olympic gold medalist, discovered her destiny in a Russian court after she pleaded responsible to a drug cost final month.

A Russian decide convicted Griner of drug possession and drug smuggling and sentenced her to 9 years in jail. She was additionally fined a million rubles, the equal of about $16,400.

Griner, 31, appeared in a courtroom in Khimki, simply outdoors Moscow. She issued an apology forward of her verdict and sentencing as prosecutors pushed for a 9.5-year sentence.

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“I wish to apologize to my teammates, my membership, my followers and town of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I introduced on them,” she mentioned. “I additionally wish to apologize to my mother and father, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury group again at dwelling, the superb ladies of the WNBA, and my superb partner again at dwelling.”

Griner contended she made “an sincere mistake” when she introduced vape cartridges containing oils derived from hashish right into a Moscow airport again in February, including “I hope in your ruling it doesn’t finish my life.”

Griner was returning to her Russian basketball group, UMMC Ekaterinburg, after there was a break in the season for worldwide play. She known as Yekaterinburg her “second dwelling.”

“I had no concept that the group, the cities, the followers, my teammates would make such an important impression on me over the 6 1/2 years that I spent right here. I keep in mind vividly popping out of the fitness center and all of the little ladies that had been in the stands there ready for me, and that is what saved making me come again right here,” she mentioned.

FORMER US MARINE DESCRIBES ‘TERRIBLE’ TIME IN RUSSIA PRISON AS BIDEN ADMIN NEGOTIATES RELEASING GRINER, WHELAN

Russian prosecutors argued that Griner purposely packed the hashish oil. Griner’s legal professionals argued that Griner was utilizing marijuana to deal with ache, however Russian officers mentioned the US legal guidelines concerning the legality of the drug had no bearing on the Russian judicial system.

The US State Department had categorised Griner as “wrongfully detained.” United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed final week that the Biden administration provided a “substantial proposal” for the return of the basketball participant and fellow American Paul Whelan.

Blinken mentioned throughout a press convention that the Biden administration made the proposal weeks in the past and is hoping to talk to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for the primary time since Feb. 15.

Russian media has speculated the commerce might be for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms vendor often called the “Merchant of Death,” who’s serving a 25-year sentence in the US after being convicted of conspiracy to kill US residents and offering help to a terrorist group.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre instructed reporters Monday that Russia made a “dangerous religion” response to the US authorities’s supply. She didn’t elaborate.

Russian officers have made it clear that no prisoner swap may occur till a conviction and sentence is handed down.

President Biden reacted to Russia’s sentencing.

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“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner obtained a jail sentence that’s another reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. It’s unacceptable, and I name on Russia to launch her instantly so she will be along with her spouse, family members, pals, and teammates. My administration will proceed to work tirelessly and pursue each attainable avenue to deliver Brittney and Paul Whelan dwelling safely as quickly as attainable,” he mentioned.

Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.

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