American star Brittney Griner jailed for nine years in Russia
A Russian court has sentenced U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison on drug charges.
The court on Thursday “found the defendant guilty” of smuggling and possessing “a significant amount of narcotics”, Judge Anna Sotnikova said, adding that she realised Ms Grinder had already spent a long time in detention.
Ms Griner was also fined one million rubles ($16,300).
The court in Moscow convicted Ms Griner of smuggling and possessing narcotics. The prosecution had sought a nine-and-a-half year jail term.
U.S. President Joe Biden condemned the verdict and pushed for Ms Griner’s release.
“My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible,” Mr Biden said in a statement.
Ms Griner was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on February 17 when cartridges containing cannabis oil for vaping were found in her luggage; her arrest became known on March 5. She has been held since then on drug smuggling charges punishable by up to 10 years
The statement said drug-sniffing dogs in the airport’s customs area showed the possible presence of narcotic drugs in the player’s carry-on baggage following her arrival on a flight from New York. A search of the luggage revealed the cartridges, a criminal violation under Russian law with a sentence of five to 10 years.
In July, Ms Griner admitted to bringing cannabis into the country, pleading guilty to the charges leveled against her. However, she maintained that she had packed in a hurry and did not intend to break the law.
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