UPDATED 6:39 AM PT – Friday, August 5, 2022
Basketball star Brittney Griner was found guilty and now faces a lengthy prison sentence in Russia. The US citizen was arrested roughly six months ago after being caught with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil at a Moscow airport. Griner was guilty on drug smuggling and possession charges.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist pleaded with the judge for leniency ahead of the court’s decision in a last ditch effort to regain her freedom. Nonetheless, Russia officials have been keen it their belief that Griner violated Russian law and should be judged accordingly.
“My parents taught me two important things,” she stated. “One: take ownership for your responsibilities. And two: work hard for everything that you have. That’s why I pled guilty to my charges. I understand everything that has been said against me, the charges that are against me, and that is why I pled guilty. But I had no intent to break any Russian laws. I made an honest mistake and I hope that, in your ruling, that it doesn’t end my life here.”
Back home in the states, Griner had been prescribed medical marijuana for pain from chronic injuries. This is reportedly a common treatment for professional athletes on part of its mild side effects in comparison to most prescribed painkillers.
Breaking: Brittney Griner was found guilty of drug possession and smuggling in a Russian court outside Moscow. Griner has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
The true length of her detainment will be determined by negotiations on a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia. pic.twitter.com/2PBk2HFBR2
— ESPN (@espn) August 4, 2022
Meanwhile, buzz of a possible prisoner swap is stirring. The Biden administration reportedly plans to exchange two Americans arrested in Russia for a weapons trafficker imprisoned in the US. According to reports, Biden’s officials have offered Russia to exchange arms-dealer Viktor Bout for US citizens Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner who are facing legal trouble in Moscow. The report cited three unnamed sources, who claimed Biden has personally approved that plan.
Bout has been imprisoned in the US on arms-trafficking charges since 2011 and is serving a 25-year term. Meanwhile, Whelan was previously convicted of espionage charges back in 2020.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his department has discussed the matter with Russian diplomats directly. He added, he hopes to reach an understanding. In the meantime, President Biden is under immense pressure to bring home Americans detained in Russia.