Brittney Griner, WNBA star sentenced to 9 years in Russian jail
American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner has been convicted of smuggling drugs into Russia and sentenced to nine years of jail time Thursday in a case that has raised concerns about her using as a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Judge Anna Sotnikova of the Khimki city court gave Griner a one million rubles, or about sixteen thousand dollars, sentence. The judge said her sentence took into account her partial admission of guilt and remorse, as well as her current state of health and good works. Prosecutors had asked that she be sentenced to nine and a half years in prison.
Before the sentencing, Griner spoke emotionally and asked for leniency from the court.
In a plea for humanity, saying that she never meant to hurt anybody, Brittney Griner said she made an honest mistake and hoped that her life didn’t end in the courtroom. She knows her actions may have been politically pawned and it’s no coincidence that she ended on a political sentence.
While she insists that she did not plan to break any Russian laws, Veselnitskaya is willing to accept if found guilty.
The defendant Brittney Griner told a CNN producer while leaving court, “I love my family.”
The verdict came about six months after the 31-year-old was arrested at a Moscow airport and was accused by Russian prosecutors of trying to smuggle cannabis (less than 1 gram) oil in her luggage. The two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist, last month, pleaded guilty to drug charges, saying it was done accidentally while in a hurry.
Lawyer’s for Brittney Griner resoundingly protested the court’s ruling, saying “we will appeal” and “the court ignored our evidence.” They have 10 days to appeal.
The attorneys have expressed their disappointment with the conviction of their clients by publishing a statement taken from defendants’ judgment. They say that the verdict does not take into account all the evidence of the defense and disregards their guilty plea. They will be appealing for an acquittal independently of case, as well as providing extensive evidence and legal research to bolster that appeal
Speaking outside the courtroom, Boykov said that the average sentence for someone convicted of this type of crime is five years, adding that almost a third of those convicted are pardoned.
“Griner is not doing well today,” said a partner at Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin and Partners law firm. Griner’s defense team is hopeful the 34-year-old will be able to speak with her family soon. Blagovolina added that Brittney Griner will return to the detention center where she is currently being held.