Brittney Griner, a top basketball player for the United States, was held liable for drug possession and smuggling in Russia on Thursday. She was given a nine-year prison sentence in a politically heated case that may result in a risky prisoner exchange between Washington and Moscow.
Brittney Griner is a two-time U.S. Olympic champion. An eight-time all-star with the Phoenix Mercury, WNBA watched the translation of the verdict of Judge Anna Sotnikova through an interpreter with an expressionless face. Although her attorneys afterward said she was “extremely unhappy.”
Additionally, Griner received a fine of 1 million rubles which equals $16,700.
Why was Brittney Griner detained in Russia?
American basketball player Brittney Griner has been under Russian custody since 17 February of this year.
According to the Russian Federal Customs Service, Griner was taken into custody after hashish oil-containing vape cartridges were discovered in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport outside of Moscow. The agency also released a video showing a traveler who resembled Brittney Griner, a seven-time W.N.B.A. All-Star center for the Mercury, passing through airport security.
Hashish oil, also known as a hash, is a marijuana concentrate that contains a significant amount of THC, the plant’s primary psychoactive component. Although there are other ways to ingest it, cartridges for vape pens are the most prevalent form of sale.
Griner’s detention occurs during the most precarious phase in US-Russian ties since the Cuban missile crisis. As the Biden administration leads dozens of nations in imposing severe sanctions on Russia’s economic and political elites, its consequences are unpredictable.
Brittney Griner Russia Trial
The trial started on July 1 and lasted slightly over four weeks. On July 7, Griner entered a plea of guilty to the accusations of hash oil smuggling and possession. Given that the legal system has a 99 percent conviction rate, her goal in doing so was probably to get more leniency. She said, “I plead guilty, your honor. However, there was no purpose. I was reluctant to violate the law”.
As the trial went on in July, Griner’s WNBA teammates testified, and her defense team released her medical records. Her lawyers also presented a letter from her doctor as proof that Griner was taking medical cannabis to treat chronic pain and injuries she had incurred during her career.
Before the extremely quick decision, a very upset Griner expressed her regrets to her family, her colleagues, and the people of Yekaterinburg, Russia, where she competed during the WNBA winter.
She said, “I pray that your verdict does not destroy my life.” Griner has ten days to file an appeal. According to her representatives, a hearing at the Moscow regional court is up for the following week.
The NBA and WNBA commissioners issued a joint statement. Detaining Brittney Griner is wrong, according to Adam Silver and Cathy Engelbert. They termed the decision and sentence handed down today as “unjustified, unfortunate, but not unexpected.” “The WNBA and NBA’s commitment to her safe return has not wavered. And it is our hope that we are nearing the conclusion of this process to ultimately bring BG home,” said a spokesman for the leagues.
The judgment was labeled “unjust” by Terri Carmichael Jackson, executive director of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association. It is a devastating blow.
USA Government Takes on Brittney Griner Case
Due to Griner’s case and her nearly six months in prison, her American supporters, especially her wife Cherelle, have voiced their extreme disapproval of Biden for not doing more to secure her release.
Brittney pleaded with Vice President Joe Biden to help her and bring her back.
She wrote, “I know you have a lot on your plate, but please don’t forget about me and the other American captives.” Please do all in your power to get us home.
Following Brittney’s appeal to the president via a handwritten letter, President Biden and Vice President Harris spoke with Cherelle. On July 6, Biden called Cherelle and promised to work to get her wife’s release.
The President got in touch with Cherelle to inform her that they are working to obtain Brittney’s release as soon as possible.
Soon after Brittney’s verdict, President Joe Biden issued a statement stating that it was “one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney.”
WNBA Brittney Griner’s Wife Cherelle
According to her LinkedIn page, Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, is a former teacher and now an attorney. She just finished her law degree at North Carolina Central University.
Cherelle has frequently urged the Biden administration to act to bring her wife home in posts on Instagram. On the other hand, Cherelle stood behind her wife while she was away by posting recordings of Brittney’s time on the court on social media. She posted on Instagram, saying, “Thank you to everyone who has contacted me on my wife’s safe return from Russia. We sincerely appreciate your prayers and support. This message arrives at a time in my life when I am at my weakest because I genuinely love my wife”.
Griner makes many attempts to contact her wife via the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Cherelle has also spoken that the couple hasn’t been able to communicate for four months.
On July 7, Cherelle spoke at a demonstration in support of her wife and vowed to keep fighting until her release.
What was Griner doing in Russia?
International leagues pay significantly more than the WNBA. A large number of WNBA players, including the league’s best stars, have left the country over the offseason. During the WNBA offseason, Brittney was in Russia competing for the EuroLeague team UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Rumors of Brittney Griner Release
On July 27, it came to light that the Biden administration had made a deal with Russia to bring back both Griner and the former marine Paul Whelan. Paul was sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage back in 2020 after a highly contentious secret trial that U.S. officials denounced. It was a reversal of the previous policy not to engage with Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. It appeared to be only a rumour up to this point.
Brittney Griner Net Worth In 2022, Age, Height, Biography, Husband And Russia Prison Sentence News
Brittney’s estimated net worth is $5 million. 6’8″ Brittney has been a basketball player since she was a young girl. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the NBA player was honoured at Nimitz High School as a McDonald’s All-American and the WBCA High School Player of the Year.