On Thursday, Judge Anna Sotnikova sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison in a Russian court. Griner, who was convicted of drug possession and smuggling, was also fined 1 million rubles, which translates to about $16,700 in US money. US President Joe Biden spoke out about the ruling immediately, calling it “unacceptable.” Early Friday morning, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also made his voice heard, condemning Russia’s sentence on Griner, per ESPN.
“It puts a spotlight on our very significant turn with Russia’s legal system and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda using individuals as political pawns,” Blinken said Friday at a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia.
Per ESPN, Antony Blinken said that the Brittney Griner ruling “compounds the injustice” while speaking at a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia. The US Secretary of State went on to say that the Russian government uses “wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda using individuals as political pawns.”
These are some strong words from Blinken. They’re not particularly surprising, though. The US has been outspoken against Russia’s actions, saying that Brittney Griner was “wrongfully detained” back in May.
About a week ago, Blinken met with Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov to discuss a prisoner swap involving Griner and ex-Marine Paul Whelan.
It was believed that Russia was never going to move forward with prisoner swap discussions until the Griner trial was completed.
Perhaps now such discussions will be able to take place.