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Brittney Griner Sentenced to 9 Years in a Russian Penal Colony

Brittney Griner Sentenced to 9 Years in a Russian Penal Colony

Brittney Griner, a WNBA star who was arrested on the Moscow airport in February, was convicted on drug smuggling and possession fees in a Russian courtroom on Thursday and sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony—one yr lower than the utmost for the crime of transporting lower than one gram of hashish oil in her baggage.

In a last plea for leniency, Griner, who pleaded responsible to drug fees final month, told the court on Thursday that she “by no means meant to place in jeopardy the Russian inhabitants” and “by no means meant to interrupt” Russian legal guidelines. “I made an sincere mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it does not finish my life right here,” she stated. “I do know everyone retains speaking about political pawns and politics, however I hope that that’s removed from this courtroom. I need to say once more that I had no intent [to break] any Russian legal guidelines… I didn’t conspire or plan to commit this crime.” Griner’s lawyer has argued that she was prescribed medical marijuana in Arizona however had no intention of utilizing it in Russia whereas noting that her shopper couldn’t have recognized the severity of hashish legal guidelines within the nation.

The U.S. State Division has accused Russia of “wrongfully detaining” Griner in an try to make use of the two-time Olympic gold medalist as a pawn amid rising tensions between Russia and the West. Her arrest befell one week previous to Russia’s assault on Ukraine. In an enchantment to Joe Biden final month, Cherelle Griner, the spouse of the Phoenix Mercury star, stated that her partner is getting used as “a political pawn,” including, “In the event that they’re holding her as a result of they need you to do one thing, then I would like you to do it.”

Final week, the Biden administration did propose a prisoner swap, providing to launch Viktor Bout, an notorious Russian arms trafficker nicknamed the “Service provider of Demise,” in alternate for Griner and Paul Whelan, a U.S. nationwide who was detained at a Moscow resort in December 2018 and arrested on espionage fees. Russian negotiators offered a counter supply, which the U.S. soundly rejected, according to Bloomberg Information. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the Biden administration’s supply as “substantial” and stated that U.S. and Russian authorities “have communicated repeatedly and instantly on that proposal and I am going to use the dialog to observe up personally.” The Kremlin, for its half, has acknowledged that the talks ought to stay “discrete,” with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stating Tuesday that “Megaphone diplomacy and public alternate of positions is not going to result in outcomes right here.”

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