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Brittney Griner found guilty of drug charges in Russian court, sentenced to 9 years

Griner faces the end of her career in Russian prison, now waits to see if a prisoner-trade deal can be found.

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Brittney Griner has been sentenced to 9 years in a Russian prison.
Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Brittney Griner has been found guilty of drug possession and drug smuggling in a Russian court, and she has been sentenced to 9 years in prison.

Griner has been held in jail in Russia since February, when she was found to be traveling with a vape carrying less than 1 gram of cannabis oil. Griner pled guilty to the charge.

In speaking before the judge, Griner asserted that her breaking of the law was nothing more than an accident, and she asked for leniency.

“I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. That’s why I pled guilty to my charges. I understand everything that’s being said against me, the charges that are against me, and that is why I pled guilty. But I had no intent to break any Russian law.”

The Biden Administration has reportedly offered to trade arms dealer Viktor Bout — one of the most notorious arms dealers in the world, who has been in American prison for many years — for Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, who is also being held by Russia.

Griner is one of the greatest WNBA players of all time and a star with the Phoenix Mercury. The league and her team, along with friends and people across the sports and political worlds, have demanded her release — demands that have fallen on deaf ears.