A Russian court has found Houston native and WNBA star Brittney Griner guilty of drug smuggling and criminal intent. The ruling was announced Thursday, a decision that is not shocking to those who have been watching from around the world.
Griner has been sentenced to nine and a half years imprisonment, with the term to begin immediately. The time she spent behind bars since her detainment in February will be included in the term, officials said. She has also been fined 1 million rubles (roughly $16,400).
The court said it took into account her partial admission of guilt, remorse for the deed, state of health and charitable activities.
The Olympic gold medalist and Phoenix Mercury player addressed the court Thursday, saying she did not mean to break any laws.
“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said in the Khimki city courthouse. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom.”
[SCROLL BREAK!!! Bayou Beat News can also be found in PRINT at a store near you. Click the link below to check out our E-Edition!]
Griner explained that, in her rush to pack her luggage, she accidentally carried a small amount of cannabis oil, which was prescribed to her by an American doctor to ease her body aches and pains. The oil and a vape cartridges were found at a Moscow airport.
Despite the doctor’s orders, Russia still said it is a crime.
Griner admitted that she was “terrified” and she and her supporters pleaded to President Joe Biden to do everything possible to help bring her home.
Now, with the sentence being handed down, a trade deal would be the only thing that can get her back on American soil soon.
Recently, a person familiar with the matter said the U.S. is willing to hand over convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner and another detained American, Paul Whelan, but sources said that Russia is wanting more of a two-for-two swap.
According to CNN sources, Russian officials also requested that Vadim Krasikov, a former colonel from the country’s domestic spy agency who was convicted of murder in Germany last year, be added to the list. If that becomes problematic, officials have indicated that they want to see the release of Roman Seleznev, a convicted hacker currently serving a 27-year sentence in the US.
This possible swap is showing promise as many are scrutinizing the Biden Administration’s handling of the case, especially in light of a trade deal in April which secured the release of Marine veteran Trevor Reed.
Reportedly, the Kremlin is not happy with the labeling of “wrongfully detained” that Americans are calling the case. They previously warned that a possible prisoner swap or deal with the United States needs to be negotiated quietly without fanfare.