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Russia sentences American basketball player to 9 years in prison

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Brittney Griner is imprisoned in Russia because cannabis oil was found in her luggage.
Brittney Griner is imprisoned in Russia because cannabis oil was found in her luggage.| Photo: EFE/EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

The Russian court responsible for the trial of the basketball athlete Brittney Griner declared this Thursday (4) that the WNBA basketball player has committed drug possession and contraband crimes.

Thus, the athlete will be subject to a penalty of nine years in prison. Brittney will also have to pay a fine of 1 million rubles.

In response to the Russian decision, US President Joe Biden said the arrest “is unacceptable”. I ask that Russia release her immediately so that she can be with her wife, her loved ones, her friends and her teammates,” he said in a statement.

Earlier, before the hearing, the athlete said that she acknowledged having made a mistake, but that she “did not conspire or plan to commit the crime” for which she is accused.

Griner was detained in February this year at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. At the time, customs officials found cannabis oil in the player’s luggage.

The defense of the American, Olympic and world champion, had asked for the athlete’s acquittal or, then, the smallest possible prison sentence.

Russian law provides for a maximum penalty of ten years in prison for the crime, so Griner had almost the maximum sentence provided.

The United States even proposed, without success, to exchange the player’s release and another American by a Russian arms dealer arrested on American soil.

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