Brittney Griner given long sentence as Biden slams Russia: "It's unacceptable"

Moscow, Russia - A Russian court has sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for illegal drug possession, the TASS news agency reported from the court in Khimki near Moscow.

Brittney Griner appeared behind bars in a Russian prison this week.
Brittney Griner appeared behind bars in a Russian prison this week.  © EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA / POOL / AFP

The WNBA star was also fined 1 million roubles, the equivalent of $16,300, according to reports, after her trial began last month.

Griner was detained in February at a Moscow airport, days before Russian troops invaded Ukraine. The athlete admitted to the court that she had been carrying cannabis oil, but had explained it was for medical reasons.

President Joe Biden responded to the decision on Thursday, after he previously corresponded with Griner by letter and has spoken to her family regarding working on her release.

"Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney.

"It's unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,"Biden said in a statement.

He added his administration would "continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue" to bring her home safely as soon as possible.

"I made an honest mistake," Griner said via a video statement behind bars. "I hope that in your ruling it doesn't end my life here."

Brittney Griner (c.) being escorted by police before a hearing during her trial on charges of drug smuggling, in Khimki, outside Moscow on Tuesday.
Brittney Griner (c.) being escorted by police before a hearing during her trial on charges of drug smuggling, in Khimki, outside Moscow on Tuesday.  © NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP

Griner has been at the center of a prison swap proposal made by the US to Russia for her release. High profile politicians, legislators, and athletes have called out Russia for her wrongful detainment.

Cover photo: EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA / POOL / AFP

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