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Brittney Griner sentenced to 9.5 years in Russia

The court has found the American basketball player guilty of drug possession and smuggling.

La jugadora de baloncesto estadounidense Brittney Griner, que actualmente milita en las UMMC Ekaterinburg.


Brittney Griner has been sentenced . The court found Griner guilty and is asking for 9.5 years in prison for drug possession and smuggling. Thus, the Russian Prosecutor's Office delivers the final verdict in the case of the WNBA star. The political reaction now remains to be seen, as there may be a prisoner exchange between Washington and Moscow.

The player, who was detained in February at Sheremetyevo Airport (Moscow), was charged with smuggling for carrying one gram of cannabis oil in her luggage while attempting to enter Russia. Griner said she was unaware that it was something prohibited, and said that the oil was for therapeutic use, not for recreational purposes.

Russian legislation punishes the crime allegedly committed by Griner, who plays for the Russian team UMMC Yekaterinburg, with up to ten years. The prosecutor also asked the world champion to pay a fine of one million rubles (more than $16,000) . The two-time Olympic champion was being held for drug possession and smuggling. Griner herself decided to plead guilty to the acts, pending a possible reduction of the sanction, which in the end did not take place.

Prisoner exchange between Russia and the U.S.

The detention of Brittney Griner has served to reignite U.S.-Russia talks on international prisoners. In Griner's case, the U.S. government considered that the basketball player's detention for crossing the border with cannabis oil was wrongful. For this reason, they demanded her immediate release.

Hence, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken proposed last week to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, the exchange of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan (an American sentenced to 16 years for espionage), in exchange for Victor Bout, a Russian assassin. However, this exchange never took place because Russia asked to add the Chechen Vadim Krasikov to the swap. The White House rejected Russia's "counter-response" because it considered these demands to be exorbitant.