The basketball champion Brittney Griner she was found guilty of drug trafficking and was sentenced to 9 years by the judge of the Khimki Tribunal on the outskirts of Moscow. The prosecution had asked for 9 and a half years. The basketball player, two times Olympic champion, stopped in Moscow last February, before the verdict she had declared that she had made a mistake and she appealed to the court. “They call me a political pawn, but I hope that politics will stay out of this courtroom – she said, pleading with the judges not to ‘put an end to her life’ – I made a good faith mistake, I was not going to break the law“. The sportswoman, who appeared behind bars and handcuffed, asked “sorry to my team, to my family. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. The only thing I want is to go back to them ”. The athlete was also fined 1 million rubles, amounting to approximately $ 16,400.
Washington’s reaction was immediate. “American citizen Brittney Griner received a ruling that once again reminds us of what the world already knows: Russia unfairly holds Brittney. It is unacceptable and I ask Russia to release it immediately so that he can reunite with his wife, friends and teammates – declares the president Joe Biden -. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home as soon as possible “. The case of him has long since become the subject of a diplomatic arm wrestling between the United States and Russia. Considered one of the best basketball players in the world, she had reached Moscow despite the American authorities having invited her fellow citizens not to leave the United States. Griner played on the Ekaterinburg basketball team in the breaks of the US championship. The Russian agents who had searched the athlete and found in the bag refills with cannabis oilthe possession of which is lawful almost everywhere in the US and it is not allowed in Russia: hence the charge of drug trafficking, a crime that can carry a penalty of up to 10 years. “Brittney is very sick, it’s hard to talk to him,” said the lawyers who announced they will appeal the sentence for which they now have 10 days.
The 31-year-old she had pleaded guilty however, claiming to have inadvertently brought the substance into Russia, rejecting the charge of drug trafficking. The prosecution claimed instead that the woman had knowingly hidden the cannabis oil in her luggage. In the midst of the war in Ukraine and the conflict between Russia and the West, the story took on geopolitical contours, when Moscow and Washington attempted a dialogue on the possible exchange of prisoners: an exchange in which the American basketball champion could be part. Even the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, expressed concern over the “unjust” condemnation and “the use by the Russian government of illicit detentions to advance its agenda, using people as political pawns” assuring that the department’s priority is “to work for bring home Brittney and the other American unjustly detained, Paul Whelan ”. Blinken will try to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Serghei Lavrov as US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told MNSBC. “I have no doubt that if he has the opportunity to speak with Lavrov he will. And if it doesn’t happen of course he’ll look for a way, ”Kirby said. The two ministers are both in Cambodia to attend the ASEAN summit. “It is an unfair and unpleasant sentence – we read in a note from the US basketball league – The commitment of the Wnba and the NBA for his return home has never failed, our hope is that we are close to the end of this process to finally bring Brittney Griner back to the United States”.