Britteny Griner Found Guilty, Sentenced To 9 Years

Brittney Griner found guilty in Russia, sentenced to 9 years in penal colony
WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner (photo: Lorie Shaull – CC License)

WNBA star Brittney Griner has been found guilty of attempting to smuggle illegal narcotics into Russia. As a result, she’s been sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony, near the maximum penalty.

U.S. officials say Griner was wrongly detained and is being used as a bargaining chip in diplomatic wrangling.

From the New York Times:

The verdict, virtually preordained in a legal system in which defendants are rarely acquitted, leaves Ms. Griner’s fate subject to diplomatic bargaining between Russia and the United States.

The countries have been discussing the possibility of a prisoner exchange that would bring Ms. Griner home from Russia, where she has been detained since traveling there in mid-February.

Officials in Moscow have said that a verdict in her trial was a necessary precondition for a possible exchange for Ms. Griner, an Olympian who is one of the biggest stars of her generation.

The judge also issued Ms. Griner with a fine of 1 million rubles, about $16,300.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has reportedly been on a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, but no progress regarding Griner has been reported.

The Biden administration has made an official offer to exchange Griner and businessman Paul Whelan, also being held in Russia, for convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout.

President Biden quickly issued a statement calling for her immediate release.