Brittney Griner Sentenced to 9 Years in Russian Penal Colony for Bringing Cannabis Oil Into Country
A judge in Russia sentenced Brittney Griner to nine years in a Russian penal colony for bringing vape cartridges, which contained cannabis oil, into the country. The judge said she believed Griner deliberately smuggled drugs into Russia, which she denied.
Brittney Griner has been sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony for bringing illegal drugs into the country, according to her lawyers. The sentencing of Griner has left many in the U.S. outraged, including President Joe Biden, who condemned the outcome of the WNBA star’s trial.
“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” read a statement released by the White House read. “It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”
The harsh sentencing was carried live on cable news networks in the U.S.
While inside a cramped cage in the Khimki courtroom outside Moscow, Griner was stoic as she heard her fate. She is also required to pay a $16,300 fine. “Yes, I understand your honor,” she said in English.
The judge said she believed Griner deliberately smuggled drugs into Russia, which she has denied. She looked solemn and appeared to shake her head “no.”
The 31-year-old basketball great’s earlier pleas for mercy fell on deaf ears, ever as she wiped away tears.
“I want the court to understand that this was an honest mistake that I made while rushing, under stress, trying to recover from COVID and just trying to get back to my team,” Griner said. Her arrest came after she was found to have packed vape cartridges in her luggage on her way to Russia in February.
She said she did not plan to bring the vape cartridges, which contained 0.7 grams of cannabis oil, to Russia, nor did she plan to use them there, because she was aware of local laws regarding the substance. Her attorneys said Griner only used cannabis as medicine and only while in Arizona, where medical marijuana is legal.
“I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that is far from this courtroom,” she said. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling, that it doesn’t end my life here.”
Griner had pleaded guilty to the charges but said she did not intend to break Russian law. Her defense team said Griner had feared the worst and called Thursday her “doomsday.”
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