US basketball star Brittney Griner has been sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia. The Moscow court found Griner guilty of smuggling and storing drugs.
Griner will spend a "total of nine years in a Russian penal colony," judge Anna Sotnikova told the court, adding that the 31-year-old athlete will also have to pay a fine of 1 million rubles ($16,590), according to The Moscow Times.
She was arrested in March after customs officials detected cannabis oil in her luggage at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow.
Custom Officials Found Cannabis Oil From Her Bag
Russian customs department at the time of Griner's arrests stated that during inspection of her hand luggage the presence of vapes with specifically smelling liquid was confirmed and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance.
US Planned To Trade Russian Arms Trafficker 'Bout' For Griner And Whelan
Reports previously claimed that the US could secure the release of WNBA star Griner and retired US Marine Paul Whelan, who is jailed in Russia. It had emerged that Washington had offered Moscow a plan to trade a Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, who is jailed in the US, for Whelan and Griner.
Griner Wrote A Letter To Biden For Help
Griner, the two-time Olympic medalist, in early July wrote a letter to President Joe Biden pleading for help. "I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, Olympic friends, or any other accomplishments I'm terrified I might be here forever," read the excerpts of the letter.
President Biden Denounces The Verdict
The verdict by the Russian court has been denounced by US President Joe Biden. He called the verdict unacceptable and called on Moscow to release her immediately so she can be with her family, loved ones, friends, and teammates.
The president also asserted that he will continue to work to bring home Griner and Whelan.