Russian Court Finds WNBA Star Brittney Griner Guilty On Drug Charges

Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in Russian jail - leading some people to accuse Russia of holding her as a political hostage.

The US WNBA player was found guilty on Thursday of attempting to smuggle illegal narcotics into Russia. Along with her jail sentence, Griner was fined 1 million rubles ($16,300, £13,435).

Back in February, Griner was arrested at the Moscow airport when officials found two vape cartridges containing less than one gram of hashish oil in her luggage. She was traveling to play basketball with a local team.

In Russia, marijuana is illegal.

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Griner pled guilty to the charges but reiterated to the court she had no intention of breaking Russian law and the cartridges were mistakenly left in her luggage.

Upon hearing her harsh sentence, people accused Russia of holding Griner hostage and using her as a pawn in negotiations with the US.

"Brittney Griner is not a prisoner in Russia. She is a hostage," Howard tweeted.

President Joe Biden called the sentencing "unacceptable" and called upon Russia to "release her immediately" in a statement.

Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, called upon the President to do more to negotiate her freedom with Russia early in July. The president reassured Cherelle they were "working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible".

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken also confirmed the US had given a proposal to Russia in exchange for Griner's freedom.

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