WNBA megastar Brittney Griner sentenced to 9 years in jail via Russian courtroom

WASHINGTON – A Russian courtroom on Thursday discovered Brittney Griner accountable of drug fees and sentenced her to 9 years in jail, because the U.S. executive scrambles to safe the WNBA megastar’s free up.

The courtroom additionally fined Griner 1 million rubles ($16,301).

The 31-year-old Griner, who performs skilled basketball in Russia all over the WNBA offseason, was once arrested in February at a Russian airport on accusations that she was once smuggling vape cartridges with hashish oil.

Under Russian legislation, the price carried a penalty of as much as 10 years in jail. During final arguments, Russian prosecutors requested the courtroom to condemn her to 9½ years in jail and factor the 1 million ruble fantastic.

Griner requested the courtroom for leniency previous Thursday.

“I by no means intended to harm anyone,” Griner mentioned following final arguments, in step with NBC News. “I by no means intended to position in jeopardy the Russian inhabitants. I by no means intended to wreck any regulations right here.”

Her attorneys have in the past mentioned Griner simplest makes use of hashish medically and hasn’t ever used it whilst in Russia.

Last month, Griner pleaded accountable to the fees however mentioned she had by accident packed the hashish canisters in her suitcase as a result of she was once in a rush.

The courtroom’s resolution comes one week after the Biden management showed it made an offer to the Russian government for the discharge of Griner and previous U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. In a observation Thursday, President Joe Biden known as the jail sentence “unacceptable” and known as for Griner’s fast free up.

“It’s unacceptable and I name on Russia to free up her in an instant so she will also be together with her spouse, family members, pals, and teammates,” Biden wrote in a observation.

“My management will proceed to paintings tirelessly and pursue each and every imaginable road to convey Brittney and Paul Whelan house safely once imaginable,” the president added.

Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken instructed journalists that the U.S. “put a considerable proposal at the desk weeks in the past” for Griner and Whelan’s free up. The best U.S. diplomat additionally mentioned he would talk about the be offering with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in what will be the first identified dialog between the 2 since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine.

“This is subtle paintings,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby instructed journalists all over a White House press briefing. “We’ve made an offer, and we urge the Russians to transport undoubtedly on that proposal so we will be able to get those two people house.”

“The main points of it, I feel are highest left between us and our Russian opposite numbers,” Kirby mentioned.

‘I’m terrified I may well be right here ceaselessly’

US WNBA basketball famous person Brittney Griner stands inside of a defendants’ cage prior to a listening to on the Khimki Court, outdoor Moscow on July 26, 2022. 

Alexander Zemlianichenko | AFP | Getty Images

Days prior to she pleaded accountable closing month, Griner penned a letter to Biden soliciting for his direct assist together with her case.

“I take a seat right here in a Russian jail, by myself with my ideas and with out the safety of my spouse, circle of relatives, pals, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I may well be right here ceaselessly,” the pro athlete wrote in a July 5 letter.

“I notice you might be coping with such a lot, however please do not disregard about me and … different American detainees. Please do all you’ll be able to to convey us house,” Griner wrote.

After receiving the letter, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris known as the WNBA megastar’s spouse, Cherelle Griner. Biden additionally wrote a reaction to Griner that U.S. diplomats hand-delivered in Moscow.

Biden reassured her spouse that he’s running to safe Griner’s free up once imaginable, in step with a White House readout of the decision. He additionally mentioned at the name that he’s running to free up Whelan, who’s serving a 16-year sentence in Russia.

Whelan was once arrested in 2018 on fees of performing as a secret agent for the United States. At the time he was once arrested, Whelan was once visiting Russia to wait a marriage, in step with his brother, David Whelan. 

Last month, Biden signed an govt order that can enlarge the management’s to be had equipment to discourage hostage-taking and the wrongful detention of U.S. nationals.

The govt order, referred to as “Bolstering Efforts to Bring Hostages and Wrongfully Detained United States Nationals Home,” will authorize the imposition of economic sanctions and visa bans on other folks focused on hostage-taking.

“This govt order displays the management’s dedication now not simply to the problems usually however to the households particularly, and it’s been knowledgeable via the federal government’s common engagements with them,” mentioned a senior Biden management reliable closing month, who spoke on situation of anonymity in an effort to percentage information about the brand new govt order.

In April, Russia agreed to free up former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed in a prisoner exchange with the United States.

Reed was once accused of assaulting a Russian police officer and detained via government there in 2019. He was once later sentenced to 9 years in a Russian jail. Reed and his circle of relatives have maintained his innocence, and the U.S. executive described him as unjustly imprisoned.

For Reed’s free up, Biden agreed to loose Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal jail sentence for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

Source Link: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/04/russian-court-finds-wnba-star-brittney-griner-guilty-on-drug-charges.html

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