News (World)

Brittney Griner gets 9 years in Russian prison after being found guilty

Britney Griner, WNBA, lesbian, arrest, cannabis. Russia, lesbian, drug charges
Brittney Griner playing for Phoenix Mercury Photo: Shutterstock

A Russian court found gay WNBA player Brittney Griner guilty of attempted illegal narcotics smuggling earlier today and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Griner apologized to the court for “my mistake that I made” and asked the judge for a light sentence after she was found guilty but before she was sentenced.

“I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of [Yekaterinburg] for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them,” she said. “I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home.”

Griner, 31, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport this past February because she had less than a gram of cannabis oil in two vape cartridges in her luggage, just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She pled guilty but said in court that she accidentally packed the two cartridges before her flight.

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” she said in English as her trial began last month.

Griner faced up to 10 years in a Russian penal colony for the 0.7 grams of cannabis oil that she had on her, and she asked that the judges ruling on sentencing “does not end my life.”

Prosecutors, though, had recommended before she was sentenced that she get nine and a half years in a penal colony. They also asked that she pay a large fine.

Her trial has been regarded by many observers as an attack on the U.S. for its opposition to the invasion of Ukraine. The ruling wasn’t surprising to many since defendants rarely get acquitted in Russia.

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