US’ Women’s National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball participant Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with unlawful possession of hashish, waits for the decision inside a defendants’ cage earlier than a court docket listening to in Khimki exterior Moscow, on August 4, 2022.
Evgenia Novozhenina | AFP | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – A Russian court docket on Thursday discovered Brittney Griner responsible of drug prices and sentenced her to 9 years in jail, because the U.S. authorities scrambles to safe the WNBA star’s launch.
The 31-year-old Griner, who performs skilled basketball in Russia through the WNBA offseason, was arrested in February at a Russian airport on accusations that she was smuggling vape cartridges with hashish oil.
Under Russian regulation, the cost carries a penalty of as much as 10 years in jail. During closing arguments, Russian prosecutors requested the court docket to condemn her to nine-and-a-half years in jail and a 1 million ruble ($16,590) nice.
“I never meant to hurt anybody,” Griner stated following closing arguments. “I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population. I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner stated, in line with NBC News.
Her legal professionals have beforehand stated that Griner solely makes use of hashish medically and has by no means used it whereas in Russia.
Last month, Griner pleaded responsible to the fees however stated that she had unintentionally packed the hashish canisters in her suitcase as a result of she was in a rush.
The court docket’s resolution comes one week after the Biden administration confirmed it made a proposal to the Russian authorities for the discharge of Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.
“We put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed reporters final week.
The high U.S. diplomat additionally stated he would talk about the supply with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in what could be the primary identified dialog between the 2 because the Kremlin invaded Ukraine.
“This is delicate work,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby informed reporters throughout a White House press briefing. “We’ve made a proposal, and we urge the Russians to move positively on that proposal so we can get these two individuals home.”
“The details of it, I think are best left between us and our Russian counterparts,” Kirby stated.
‘I’m terrified I may be right here endlessly’
US WNBA basketball famous person Brittney Griner stands inside a defendants’ cage earlier than a listening to on the Khimki Court, exterior Moscow on July 26, 2022.
Alexander Zemlianichenko | AFP | Getty Images
Days earlier than she pleaded responsible final month, Griner penned a letter to Biden asking for his direct assist together with her case.
“I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” the skilled athlete wrote in a July 5 letter.
“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and … other American detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home,” Griner wrote.
After receiving the letter, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris known as the WNBA star’s spouse, Cherelle Griner. Biden additionally wrote a response to Griner that U.S. diplomats hand-delivered in Moscow.
Biden reassured her spouse that he’s working to safe Griner’s launch as quickly as potential, in line with a White House readout of the decision. He additionally stated on the decision that he’s working to launch Whelan, who’s serving a 16-year sentence in Russia.
Whelan was arrested in 2018 on prices of appearing as a spy for the United States. At the time he was arrested, Whelan was visiting Russia to attend a marriage, in line with his brother, David Whelan.
Last month, Biden signed an government order that can develop the administration’s obtainable instruments to discourage hostage-taking and the wrongful detention of U.S. nationals.
The government order, often known as “Bolstering Efforts to Bring Hostages and Wrongfully Detained United States Nationals Home,” will authorize the imposition of monetary sanctions and visa bans on individuals concerned in hostage-taking.
“This executive order reflects the administration’s commitment not just to the issues generally but to the families in particular, and it has been informed by the government’s regular engagements with them,” stated a senior Biden administration official final month, who spoke on situation of anonymity with a view to share particulars concerning the new government order.
In April, Russia agreed to launch former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed in a prisoner alternate with the United States.
Reed was accused of assaulting a Russian officer and detained by authorities there in 2019. He was later sentenced to 9 years in a Russian jail. Reed and his household have maintained his innocence, and the U.S. authorities described him as unjustly imprisoned.
For Reed’s launch, Biden agreed to free Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal jail sentence for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the United States.
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