*WNBA star Brittney Griner has been found guilty by a Russian court of smuggling drugs into the country with criminal intent. She was sentenced to 9 years in prison, People reports.
Griner has been detained in Russia since February on accusations of smuggling cannabis oil, which is illegal in the country. Last month, she pleaded guilty to drug charges. “I was in a rush packing and the cartridges accidentally ended up in my bag,” Griner told the court in Khimki, BBC reported.
The American athlete faced up to 10 years in jail for the charge. During closing arguments this week, prosecutors asked for 9.5 years, CNN reports.
The United States had offered to release Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death” in exchange for Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.
As we reported previously, former President Trump called Griner “spoiled” during a recent interview on the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show. He also noted that a prisoner exchange for a Russian arms dealer “doesn’t seem like a very good trade.”
As reported by CNN, prior to the verdict, Griner apologized to the court and asked for leniency.
“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, near Moscow. “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.
“I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime,” she added.
Per Daily Mail, the White House has been unable to negotiate a prisoner swap to bring the two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist home.
President Joe Biden reacted to the verdict, saying: “Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”
He said the White House will pursue “every possible avenue” to bring her home.