We are expected to have a decision at some point on Thursday in the court case of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was detained back in February for allegedly carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil in a Moscow airport.
Nearly six months after her initial detainment, it now appears that Russian prosecutors are seeking a conviction to the full extent of the law for Griner.
It has been reported on Thursday that Russian prosecutors in the case have asked a court outside of Moscow to sentence Griner to 9.5 years in prison for cannabis possession charges. The maximum sentence for this offense in Russia is ten years in prison, so it would be nearly a maximum sentence if the Russian prosecutors get their wish.
Griner and her defense team are very clearly fighting an uphill battle in this case, as defendants in Russia are acquitted of their crimes in less than one percent of cases according to the Associated Press. It’s very likely that Griner will be found guilty, and that her best chance of returning to the United States is in a potential prisoner swap between Russia and the U.S.
This idea has been discussed between the two countries as the United States government has become more adamant about bringing her home.
The potential deal on the table would involve Griner and fellow American prisoner in Russia Paul Whelan in return for Russian arms dealer Victor Bout, who is better known as the “Merchant of Death” and is currently serving a 25-year federal prison sentence for conspiring to sell weapons to people who said they planned to kill Americans.
Letting a dangerous man like this return back to Russia may seem like a disastrous idea, but it may be the only way that the U.S. brings Brittney Griner back to her home country anytime soon.