Russian Court Makes Decision on Brittney Griner's 9-Year Prison Sentence

A Russian court has decided on Brittney Griner's nine-year prison sentence. On Tuesday, the court denied the WNBA star's appeal in a session where she appeared via video call from a penal colony outside of Russia, according to Entertainment Tonight. Griner is in prison for drug possession, and the rejection means that she will serve nine years in a penal colony unless the United States works out a deal to get her home. 

"This has been a very traumatic experience, waiting for this day, waiting for the first court, and getting nine years for a crime that I was barely over the significant amount," Griner told the Moscow hearing on Tuesday. "I don't understand the first court's decision to give one year less than the max when I've been here almost 8 months, and people with more severe crimes have gotten less than what I was given... I really hope that the court will adjust this sentence, because it's been very, very stressful and very traumatic to my mental and psyche, being away from my family and not being able to communicate."  

U.S. officials recently said they believe Russia will send Griner home in a prisoner swap but have expressed frustration over the country's failure to respond to an offer the United States made this past summer. "We are aware of the news out of Russia that Brittney Griner will continue to be wrongfully detained under intolerable circumstances after having to undergo another sham judicial proceeding today," U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement, per ESPN.

During Griner's appeal, she has been staying in a safe Moscow jail. However, the 32-year-old is set to serve her sentence in one of "Russia's notorious penal colonies." She has been in custody for eight months as she was arrested on Feb. 17. At the time, Griner was trying to enter Russia to join her club team in Ekaterinburg. Customs officials found vape cartridges containing hashish oil, but Griner said she inadvertently packed them.

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Earlier this month, Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner appeared on CBS Mornings and said she is worried about the fate of the WNBA Champion. "It's like a movie for me," she said. "I'm like, 'In no world did I ever thought, you know, our president and a foreign nation president would be sitting down having to discuss the freedom of my wife.' And so to me, as much as everybody's telling me a different definition of what B.G. is, it feels to me as if she's a hostage."