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.
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.
\u201c9 years in a Russia prison for Marijuana possession is extreme AF.\n\nWe all KNOW it ain't about the Ganja.\n\nPutin is holding Brittney Griner hostage as a bargaining chip.\n\nObvi he wants Biden to minimize help to Ukraine or something equally f*cked up.\n\nPutin is an evil SOB.\u201d
President Joe Biden called the sentencing "unacceptable" and called upon Russia to "release her immediately" in a statement.
\u201cBrittney Griner has been convicted and sentenced to 9 years in prison for bringing into Russia two cartridges of cannabis oil. Russia is not our friend. It is a hostile foreign adversary preying on an innocent person as a political pawn as trade bait for a prisoner exchange.\u201d
\u201cMy heart hurts so much for Brittney Griner, her wife, & her family. She's been held hostage for months and is now sentenced to a penal colony. I have a whole lot to say about this country & our so-called diplomacy, but right now I just hope that we are able to bring her home.\u201d
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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