WNBA star Brittney Griner was on Thursday sentenced to 9 years in prison by a Russian court after she was found guilty of smuggling and storing illegal drugs, ABC News reported.
The Phoenix Mercury star, who is classified as “wrongfully detained” by the U.S. government, was arrested in Russia in February after authorities allegedly found cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage, Face2Face Africa reported. She was subsequently charged with drug smuggling.
The 31-year-old had entered the European nation to play for a female basketball team during the WNBA off-season. Her sentencing also came after she pleaded guilty to the charges in July. But Griner told the Russian court that it wasn’t her intention to “break the law.”
Griner’s sentencing was condemned by President Joe Biden as well as the basketball fraternity in the United States. In a statement, Biden reiterated Griner is being “wrongfully detained” in Russia.
“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,” Biden said in the statement.
“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also said the verdict and sentencing were “unjustified and unfortunate, but not unexpected and Brittney Griner remains wrongly detained.”
“The WNBA and NBA’s commitment to her safe return has not wavered and it is our hope that we are near the end of this process of finally bringing BG home to the United States,” they added in a joint statement.
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