Russian Court Sentences Former Olympics Winner Brittney Griner To 9 Years In Jail

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A Russian court has sentenced US basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison on drug charges.

The double Olympic winner has admitted possessing cannabis oil, but told the court she had made an “honest mistake”.

The court near Moscow convicted her of smuggling and possessing narcotics. The prosecution had sought a nine-and-a-half year jail term.

Reading the verdict on Thursday, the presiding judge said she had taken into account the fact that the American had already spent a considerable time in detention.

Griner’s defence lawyer Maria Blagovolina said her client was “very upset, very stressed”.

The defence team said they would appeal against the verdict.

Griner, who is considered one of the best female players in the world, was detained in February at an airport near Moscow when vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage.

She had come to Russia to play club basketball during the US off-season.

Soon after, Russia invaded Ukraine and her case has become subject to high-profile diplomacy between the US and Russia.

US President Joe Biden called the sentencing “unacceptable”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “Russia, and any country engaging in wrongful detention, represents a threat to the safety of everyone travelling, working, and living abroad.”