Brittney Griner is going to be in Russia for a while.
Especially if the Russians decide they don’t want to do a prisoner swap, the US has no way of getting her out.
A Russian court sentenced Brittney Griner to 9 years after finding her guilty of cannabis possession and smuggling — despite her claims that she “made an honest mistake” and her tearful pleas for mercy.
Seating in a cage reserved for defendants at the Khimki court outside Moscow, Griner remained stone-faced upon hearing the verdict.
When given a chance to speak during Thursday’s hearing, Griner, 31, with her voice quivering, acknowledged her “mistake” and pleaded for leniency.
“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, referring to her packing vape cartridges in her luggage on her way to Russia in February.
“I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that is far from this courtroom,” she continued. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling, that it doesn’t end my life here.”
Griner, who pleaded guilty to the charges, said that she did not intend to break Russian law, and that her parents had taught her to take ownership of her errors.
Earlier in the trial, Griner testified that she inadvertently placed cannabis cartridges into her bag while “stress-packing” for her trip to Russia, where she was contracted to play basketball for a local team during WNBA’s off-season.
It is sad that she is reduced to groveling in a foreign country.
Here is what Joe Biden had to say about the ruling.
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. It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.
Flip the page to see her legal options going forward.