Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner was handed a nine-year prison sentence along with a fine in Russian court on Thursday after being detained since February. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a joint statement on the sentence shortly after the ruling.
“Today’s verdict and sentencing is unjustified and unfortunate, but not unexpected and Brittney Griner remains wrongfully detained. The WNBA and NBA’s commitment to her safe return has not wavered and it is our hope that we are near the end of this process of finally bringing BG home to the United States.”
Brittney Griner was detained at a Moscow airport back in February after vape cartridges with cannabis oil were found in her luggage. She faced up to 10 years in prison and wound up getting nine in a ruling that was essentially a formality. She pleaded guilty not long ago to move along the process in hopes of being brought home in a prisoner swap, though she maintained she had just made an honest mistake.
President Joe Biden immediately decried the ruling against Griner. The United States has proposed a swap involving Griner and Paul Whelan for noted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Russia hasn’t agreed to the swap yet and is reportedly even looking for another prisoner to be a part of the deal.
With Brittney Griner’s sentencing now complete, expect negotiations to ramp up even more in an attempt to get her home as soon as possible. This isn’t a simple situation, though, so it might still be a little while before any deal is agreed upon. Let’s just hope she’s able to come back soon.