Thursday in the Khimki city court, Judge Anna Sotmikova sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years of jail time for being tried on drug smuggling charges. Griner in an emotional speech to the court stated, “I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here, I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawns and politics, but I hope that this is far from this courtroom.” This news is a definite shock to Griner’s supporters and the WNBA league. They are still insisting that they will do whatever they can to get her home. In the heap of this final sentencing of Griner, President Biden calls her sentence “unacceptable.” He condemns the sentence and is calling for the immediate release of the star player. He stated, “American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. 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 continued by saying that the administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney home safely.
It is now 168 days since her detainment back in February. Many of Griner’s supporters are appalled by the sentence and letting it be known by many tweets on social media. Supporters such as Rev. Al Sharpton, Las Vegas Aces A’ja Wilson, the WNBA, and the NBA are all voicing their frustrations with the final sentencing. Griner’s defense attorney stated the verdict was “absolutely ridiculous.”
We do know that the US offered an exchange for convicted Russian arms trafficker, Viktor Bout as a potential deal. However, there was no substantial proposal on the table and the deal never was confirmed. The US was still not convinced that Russia was cooperating. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Blinken said he urged them to move forward with a proposal that the US had already offered them, but no more details were disclosed.