WNBA Star Brittany Griner Sentenced to 9 Years in Russian Prison For Drug Trafficking

WNBA Star Brittany Griner Sentenced to 9 Years in Russian Prison: An American WNBA player has been jailed in Russia for months as tensions between the two countries continue to grow due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

During the off-season, Brittney Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who competes for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg, plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA. In February, she was detained on drug-related charges when Customs discovered vape cartridges in her luggage at the airport.

A Russian court found Griner guilty of smuggling drugs on August 4 and sentenced her to nine years in a prison colony, over a month after she entered a guilty plea. Griner’s legal team has challenged the conviction, and Biden will meet with the athlete’s family on Friday. Everything about her case is here.

Brittney Griner Was Arrested in Russia in February 

On March 6, Russia made its initial announcement of Griner’s incarceration, informing the world that an American basketball player was being held. Later, the player was recognized as Griner, and a video purportedly documenting her halt at Customs was made public.

You Should Know About Brittany Griner:

  • First, A penal colony is a prison or jail where prisoners are confined. Despite US efforU.S. to secure Brittney Griner’s release through a prisoner swap, the WNBA athlete is serving a nine-year sentence in a Russian jail colony. Click here to read more…
  • Second, Some of the inmates beat and torment their fellow inmates. Many must put in 16-hour days. In some instances, Russian propaganda is re-watched over and over again. The Russian penitentiary colony is Brittney Griner’s new home, where she will serve a nine-year sentence.  Click here to read more…

Now you come back to the base. The New York Times reports that Russian law enforcement alleges that Griner was arrested on drug trafficking charges when they discovered her possessing vape cartridges allegedly containing hashish oil. She may spend up to ten years in a penitentiary colony if convicted.

Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, told ESPN that they were “in close communication with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA” After Russia confirmed Griner’s detention.

“As this is an ongoing legal situation, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case,” Colas stated in the statement. “However, we can affirm that as we seek to return her home, her emotional and physical health remains our priority.”

Cherelle Griner, Griner’s wife, also sent a message on Instagram thanking followers for their “prayers and support” and requesting privacy. While this was happening, the WNBA issued a statement pledging its “full support” for Griner and stating that her “quick and safe return to the United States” was their first goal.  USA Basketball and Phoenix Mercury made similar declarations.

WNBA Star Brittany Griner Sentenced to 9 Years in Russian Prison
WNBA Star Brittany Griner Sentenced to 9 Years in Russian Prison

Given Griner’s high-profile position as an American athlete and her identity as an LGBTQ+ Black woman, her detention in Russia is especially concerning. Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, has taken a strong position against LGBTQ+ rights, saying in 2020 that he would never allow same s*ex marriage in his nation.

At a press conference on March 6, Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed Griner’s detention. Whenever an American is detained anywhere, we stand ready to provide all conceivable help. And that applies to Russia as well.

Griner reportedly received a visit from consular representatives on March 23 in the cell she shares with two Russian prisoners. Many of Griner’s supporters are furious that the government isn’t launching a more extensive campaign for her freedom.

However, government officials are opting to work discreetly on Griner’s case out of concern that overpublicizing it may negatively affect her confinement. When the Biden administration revealed in April that American Marine veteran Trevor Reed had been released as part of a prisoner swap with Russia, attention was again drawn to Griner’s case.

In a June interview with NBC, a Kremlin representative denied holding Griner captive or using her as a pawn in politics. She said she was “hundreds and hundreds of Russian individuals who were jailed for carrying hashish.” Why should we make an exemption for a foreign citizen, the spokeswoman continued?

The Times claims that Griner’s custody was repeatedly prolonged, which is typical of Russian courts. Griner “continues to endure brutal treatment, denied contact with her family,” according to the letter delivered to the Biden administration in June from dozens of organizations that advocate for women, people of color, and LGBTQ voters.

On June 27, Griner’s attorney told the Times that Griner had “no concerns” regarding the circumstances of her imprisonment.

WNBA Star Brittany Griner Sentenced to 9 Years in Russian Prison
WNBA Star Brittany Griner Sentenced to 9 Years in Russian Prison

Hours after a Russian foreign ministry allegedly accused the Biden administration of attempting to “foment excitement” around Griner’s case, Griner appeared in court on July 7 and admitted bringing cannabis into Russia but said she didn’t intend to breach the law.

Griner informed the court that there was no intention. Later, I’d like to provide my testimony. I require time to get ready. According to Russian law experts, admitting guilt is the best way to get a less sentence; according to CBS, it’s also a requirement for a prospective prisoner exchange.

Griner Addressed a Private Letter to the President as Her Trial Got Underway

On July 4, Griner’s family handed President Joe Biden a handwritten letter that the basketball player had written. “As 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,”

Griner wrote. “I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about the other American detainees and me. Please do all you can to bring us home.” Griner reportedly informed Biden that she had cast her first presidential election ballot for him in 2020. “I have faith in you. You can help me regain my freedom since I still have a lot of good to do with it,” she wrote.

According to press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House confirmed that Biden received the letter and that the subject was “extremely personal to him.” The National Security Council’s Adrienne Watson stressed that the government “continues to work aggressively” for Griner’s release when the Times contacted her for comment.

She added that the “president’s team” was in contact with Griner’s family but that whatever relationship they had appeared to be deteriorating. On July 5, Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, came on CBS Mornings to defend her against Russian accusations that she was involved in drug trafficking and to express her displeasure with Biden.

Cherelle stated that although she is unsure of the motivation behind her wife’s decision to write to Biden directly, she suspects it was due to his prior refusal to meet with her family personally. “I think the decision for her to feel the need to reach out to President Biden directly is because of the failed attempts we have had as a family,” she said.

In her letters, Griner frequently asked whether Cherelle had been able to meet with Biden. She continued to see pictures of her during her first court appearance, which made her “terrified” for her wife and mental state.

Cherelle Griner declared that she was done remaining silent after previously making only sporadic appearances in the media and communicating with them. “I did that, and respectfully, we’re over 140 days at this point — that does not work. And so I will not be quiet anymore,” she said. “They are not moving, they are not doing anything, so my wife is struggling, and we have to help her.”

According to a statement issued by the White House. According to reports, Biden reassured her that he was “trying to achieve” Griner’s release and gave her a copy of a letter he intended to write her.

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