Brittney Griner Sentenced To 9 Years In Russian Prison On Drug Smuggling Charges

Lorie Shaull

Back in February, WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained at a Russian prison. Police discovered that she had cannabis oil in her luggage. She was arrested for drug smuggling, and for months, she awaited trial.

Meanwhile, Griner sent a letter to President Joe Biden pleading for his help getting her home to the United States. Griner’s wife and her coach also spoke out about Griner’s situation, raising awareness and hoping something would be done.

Now, Griner’s day in court has come, and it did not go well for her. She faced a potential maximum prison sentence of 10 years. In the end, she was sentenced to 9 years in a Russian prison.

In a statement to PEOPLE, Griner’s lawyers said that they will “certainly file an appeal.” They consider the prison sentence “absolutely unreasonable.”

Griner pled guilty. “She admitted that she had less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in her possession, but she also claimed that she broke the law “inadvertently.” She asked for the court to be lenient because she had make a mistake and did not intend to break the law.

According to CNN, Griner explained, “That’s why I pled guilty to my charges. I understand everything that’s been said against me, the charges that are against me and that is why I pled guilty but I had no intents to break any Russian laws.”

Griner isn’t the only American considered unfairly imprisoned in Russia. The Biden administration is currently trying to arrange a deal with Russia that would bring Griner and American Paul Whelan home. Whelan has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018. He was charged with espionage and is currently serving a 16 year prison sentence.

Fox News was able to capture live footage of the courtroom just before Griner’s verdict was announced. Watch the video below to hear more about Griner’s court case and the idea of the United States arranging a prisoner swap with Russia.