WNBA star Brittney Griner was initially detained in Russia back in February for allegedly carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil in a Moscow airport. We now finally have a court ruling from the Russian Court in charge of the case nearly six months after being detained, and it is not a positive outcome for the Phoenix Mercury forward.
Griner has been sentenced by the Russian court to nine years in prison for smuggling the illegal drugs into the country, which was the expected verdict after Griner pleaded guilty to the crimes last month.
She relayed an emotional message following the decision on Thursday, saying that she had “no intent” to break the Russian laws.
“That’s why I pled guilty to my charges. I understand everything that’s being said against me, the charges that are against me, and that is why I pled guilty,” Griner said addressing the judge through an interpreter from her defendant’s cage. “But I had no intent to break any Russian laws.”
This ruling was slightly less than Russian prosecutors were hoping for, initially pushing for a sentencing of 9.5 years instead of 9 years which was ultimately decided on.
Regardless, the sports world is heartbroken at this decision, and hopes that the U.S. government quickly gets involved to bring her back to the United States in a potential.
Another example of the unequal treatment of humans in this world! You have criminals walking around who hurt others and she gets 9 years for them accusing her of hurting herself! History repeats itself again for political gain! 🙏🏿 for Brittney she is a wonderful person! https://t.co/yjPfwkR7kk
— Eddie A Johnson (@Jumpshot8) August 4, 2022
I pray that these negotiations happen quickly. It’s day 168. even one more day there is too much. That testimony was heartbreaking. Let’s get her home https://t.co/diVBO3RYXO
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) August 4, 2022
Bring her home already. https://t.co/0M9dSIuuuG
— JOHN JOHNSON II (@TheJJohnsonTV) August 4, 2022
FREE BG 🥺 https://t.co/4ZkHoTuG4y
— KB 🦍 (@Dotmug_330) August 4, 2022
This is ridiculous man… 🤦🏽♂️ https://t.co/6atTRvupCd
— Branden Bowen (@BrandenBowen) August 4, 2022
Get her home. https://t.co/L0Oo10p3p0
— Erin Sorensen (@erinsorensen) August 4, 2022
Russia and the United States have already discussed a potential prisoner swap to bring her back to the U.S., and experts believe that now that the case is closed there may be more traction on that front from both sides to potentially make that a reality.
Unfortunately doing so is likely going to release a dangerous criminal in return to Russia, with reports that Victor Bout, who is currently serving a 25-year federal prison sentence for conspiring to sell weapons to people who said they planned to kill Americans has been discussed to be the person involved in said swap.
This decision is ultimately a sad one, and the United States will now likely move with some more urgency now that there is a real reality that Griner could spend nine years in prison for her charges.