Russian court has reinstated Brittney Griner’s 9-year prison term
On Tuesday, a Russian court affirmed U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner’s 9-year sentence to a Russian correctional colony, despite the fact that the procedural leading up to the ruling was deemed a “sham” by a White House official.
Authorities at a Moscow airport found vape canisters and cannabis oil in Griner’s luggage in February, leading to her detention. However, in the United States, word of her arrest did not spread until March. After being charged with illegally importing drugs, she entered a guilty plea. During the month of August, a Russian court handed down a sentence of nine years in jail. A number of media sites reported on Tuesday that Griner’s attorney had asked for a suspended sentence in an appeal, adding that his client was not anticipating any “miracles.”
As reported by the New York Times on Tuesday, unless the Biden administration successfully negotiates Griner’s release, she will soon begin completing her sentence. As of early this month, Cherelle Griner, Griner’s wife, had voiced concern over just such a scenario.
Earlier this month, Cherelle Griner said, “Once that hearing is held and the order is finalized… she could be moved to a labor camp.” Inconceivable to my feeble mind.
The White House has been trying to get Brittney Griner out of Russia, where she is been playing professionally since 2014. Even though the WNBA star has a prescription for medical marijuana in Arizona, possessing even a small amount of the drug is against the law in Russia. The length of her sentence appears politically driven, according to experts.
Concerns have also been raised about how Griner, a gay, will be treated in Russia, a country with a checkered history of homophobic persecution.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan issued a statement restating the White House’s demand that Griner be released immediately.
He said, “The Biden-Harris Administration has continued to engage with Russia through every available channel and make every effort to bring Brittney home, as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia, including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan.”