Brittney Griner Sentenced To Nine Years In Russian Prison, Biden Slams Ruling
United States President Joe Biden has spoken against a Russian court's decision, calling it “unacceptable,” after American basketball star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison.
“I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House on Thursday. “My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelasafelyn home as soon as possible.”
Griner, 31, has been detained since February 17, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine, and charged with drug smuggling for bringing illegal cannabis-infused vape cartridges into Moscow. Griner pleaded guilty in July to drug charges but has maintained she used medicinal cannabis to treat pain and denied she intended to violate Russian law.
However, there's a chance Griner won’t serve the sentence in its entirety. The U.S. and Russian officials have been negotiating a prisoner swap that would reportedly include a Russian arms dealer nicknamed "The Merchant of Death."