Biden responds to Brittney Griner verdict — Analysis

US president calls basketball star “wrongfully detained” and demands Russia release her “immediately”

Brittney Griner’s conviction is “unacceptable”Russia must free her “immediately,”The US President Joe Biden stated Thursday that Griner was given a nine year sentence by a Moscow court for drug-related charges. He also described Griner as “wrongfully detained.”

Griner’s sentence is “one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,”In a White House statement, Biden stated that he was ill. The White House has declared that the US President is now isolated after his Covid-19 symptoms have returned. 

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” the statement said, adding that the US government will “continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue”Griner and Paul Whelan were sent home by Russia after they were convicted in 2020 of spying and given 16-year sentences. 

Griner had been found guilty of the crime of smuggling illegal drugs by Khimki’s district court. Griner was sentenced to nine year imprisonment in penal colony. That is slightly less than the 9 and half years the prosecutors requested. A fine of 1 million rubles ($16,200) was also imposed by Griner’s presiding Judge.

Griner jailed for nine years in Russian drugs trial

Griner was arrested on February 17 when a drug-sniffing dog at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport alerted to her luggage. Security officers discovered vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in Griner’s bags. This is illegal in Russia.

Eight-time WNBA All-Star, Griner, who is a player for Phoenix Mercury, apologized. She said the cartridges got lost in her bag because she was hurrying to pack. Griner, who has been playing for the WNBA in Ekaterinburg since 2015, was on her way there to play basketball. 

Griner’s attorneys called the sentence “absolutely unreasonable”And they said they would “certainly”Appeal it. The court “completely ignored all the evidence of the defense” including Griner’s guilty plea, they added.

Moscow has categorically denied that Griner’s arrest had anything to do with politics, or the conflict in Ukraine which began a week later. Russian authorities have noted that she broke the law, and no exceptions could be made just because she’s a foreigner.

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