A Russian court sentences WNBA star Brittney Griner to 9 years on drug charges

A Russian court sentences WNBA star Brittney Griner to 9 years on drug charges

Published August 4, 2022
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Brittney Griner holds a picture of her Russian basketball team as she stands inside a defendants’ cage before a court hearing in Khimki, outside Moscow, on Thursday. Evgenia Novozhenina/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

MOSCOW — A Russian court has found Brittney Griner guilty on drug smuggling and possession charges. The widely expected verdict comes after a monthlong trial and nearly six months after the basketball star was arrested at a Moscow-area airport with cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage.

The Biden administration, under public pressure to secure her release, has tried to negotiate with Russia to free her as well as another jailed American, Paul Whelan. Russia has said any potential deal — including a rumored prisoner swap that could see the U.S. release notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout — would have to wait until after the court’s verdict.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” he added. “My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”