Joe Biden slams Russia’s 9-year jail sentence for US basketball star Griner

Joe Biden slams Russia’s 9-year jail sentence for US basketball star Griner


Khimki: A Russian court docket sentenced U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner to 9 years in jail on Thursday after discovering her responsible of intentionally bringing cannabis-infused vape cartridges into Russia, a ruling that President Joe Biden known as “unacceptable.” Griner was arrested in mid-February, and her case threw the Texan athlete into the geopolitical maelstrom triggered when President Vladimir Putin despatched troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, propelling U.S.-Russian relations to a brand new post-Chilly Battle low.

Griner`s sentencing may now pave the way in which for a U.S.-Russia prisoner swap that would come with the 31-year-old athlete and an imprisoned Russian who was as soon as a prolific arms seller.
Griner had admitted having the vape cartridges containing cannabis oil however mentioned it was an trustworthy mistake. Earlier than the decision, she pleaded with a Russian choose to not “finish her life” with a harsh jail sentence, earlier than breaking down in tears in court docket. The court docket additionally fined her 1 million roubles ($16,990).

Biden, below strain to assist free People held in Russia, known as on Russia to launch Griner instantly and mentioned his administration would proceed to work for her launch. “At present, American citizen Brittney Griner acquired a jail sentence that’s yet another reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” Biden mentioned in a press release.

“It`s unacceptable, and I name on Russia to launch her instantly so she might be together with her spouse, family members, associates, and teammates.”

Griner`s defence attorneys mentioned they’d attraction. The defence staff mentioned that in sentencing the court docket had ignored all proof they’d introduced in addition to Griner`s responsible plea. They mentioned they have been “disenchanted” by the decision.

The Russian prosecutor had known as for Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and a Girls`s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) star, to be sentenced to 9-1/2 years jail if she was discovered responsible of bringing unlawful medication into the nation.


Griner was detained at Moscow`s Sheremetyevo airport on Feb. 17 with the cartridges containing cannabis oil in her baggage. Whereas she pleaded responsible, she mentioned she had neither supposed to convey a banned substance to Russia nor to harm anyone.

“I made an trustworthy mistake and I hope that in your ruling, that it doesn`t finish my life right here,” Griner mentioned in court docket on Thursday earlier than breaking down in tears.

“My mother and father taught me two necessary issues: one, take possession of your obligations and two, work laborious for every little thing that you’ve got. That`s why I pled responsible to my fees.”
Griner additionally referred to the worldwide politics round her case.

“I do know everyone retains speaking about political pawn and politics, however I hope that’s removed from this courtroom,” Griner mentioned. Hashish is against the law in Russia for each medicinal and leisure functions.


Griner`s defence staff had known as for her to be acquitted. Her attorneys mentioned on Thursday that if the court docket deemed it essential to punish her, she ought to be handled leniently, casting her as a sporting legend alongside Usain Bolt and Michael Schumacher.

“In sprinting there’s Usain Bolt, in System 1 Michael Schumacher, and in girls`s basketball there’s Brittney Griner,” lawyer Maria Blagovolina, a companion at Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Companions legislation agency, advised the court docket.

Alexander Boikov, her different lawyer, mentioned a few of the case recordsdata have been drawn up in violation of the legislation.

The US has supplied to change Russian prisoners for Americans together with Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan. “I wish to say once more that I had no intent on breaking any Russians legal guidelines,” Griner advised the court docket. “I had no intent, I didn’t conspire or plan to commit this crime.”


One supply aware of the state of affairs mentioned that Washington was prepared to change convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout, whose life helped encourage the 2005 Hollywood movie “Lord of Battle” starring Nicholas Cage.

Russian officers have mentioned a deal has not been reached. They argue that Griner – often called “BG” to basketball followers – violated legal guidelines and ought to be judged accordingly.
Griner appeared on the listening to in a gray T-shirt and round-rimmed glasses. Earlier than taking a seat within the defendant`s cage, she held up a staff image of UMMC Ekaterinburg, the staff she performed for in Russia throughout the WNBA offseason.

In her testimony final week, Griner expressed puzzlement as to how the vape cartridges ended up in her baggage as she was flying again to Russia to hitch UMMC Ekaterinburg for the playoffs.
“I nonetheless don`t perceive to at the present time how they ended up in my bag,” mentioned Griner, the primary choose general within the 2013 WNBA draft. “If I needed to guess on how they ended up in my luggage, I used to be in a rush packing.”

Griner had been prescribed medical marijuana in the US to alleviate ache from continual accidents, a remedy technique that’s frequent amongst elite athletes as a result of it has fewer unwanted side effects than some painkillers.

(Aside from the headline, this story has not been edited by Zee Information workers and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)


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