Saturday, August 13, 2022

Brittney Griner ‘Devastated’ After Sentenced to 9 Years in Russian Prison

Brittney Griner in Russian Court (06-27-22) - Getty
Brittney Griner in Russian Court (06-27-22) – Getty

*Brittney Griner’s lawyer says the WNBA star is “devastated” after a Russian court sentenced her to nine years in prison on drug smuggling charges.

“She’s devastated. She is very upset and she’s honestly quite shocked, so she needs to digest what happened today,” Griner’s lawyers — Maria Blagovolina, tells PEOPLE.

On Thursday, Griner was 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 reports.

READ MORE: Brittney Griner Found Guilty in Russia Drug Smuggling Case, Sentenced to 9 Years

Brittney Griner led in Russian courtroom (Evgenia Novozhenina-Reuters)
Brittney Griner led in Russian courtroom (Evgenia Novozhenina-Reuters)

The American athlete faced up to 10 years in jail for the charge. During closing arguments, prosecutors asked for 9.5 years, CNN reports. 

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.

According to Blagovolina, Griner has not yet been able to speak with her wife or friends and family since the ruling.

“So nine years, it’s pretty unusual and it contradicts the existing court practice in Russia,” Blagovolina said. “That’s why we are really disappointed and very much surprised by this decision of the court.”

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.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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