UPDATE: President Biden demands Russia release WNBA star Brittney Griner immediately

US basketball star Brittney Griner freed from Moscow prison in exchange for Russian Arms Dealer Viktor Bout

Image of US basketball star Brittney Griner. Credit: Keeton Gale/Shutterstock.com

President Joe Biden has called for the immediate release of WNBA star Brittney Griner.

UPDATE: Thursday, August 4 at 7:11pm

The White House has released a statement from President Joe Biden demanding that Russia releases WNBA star Brittney Griner immediately. She has been sentenced to nine years in jail by a Moscow court after being found guilty of drug possession and smuggling.

UPDATE: Thursday, August 4 at 5:56pm

A Moscow court has sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison. She had pleaded for the judge to take her good character into consideration and show her leniency before the sentence was handed down, according to tmz.com.

The judge however insisted that the cannabis cartridges had been deliberately brought into Russia. A fine of one million rubles (approx €16,000) was also imposed. Griner has the right to appeal her conviction.

It now remains to be seen what transpires in relation to the basketball star’s prison term. There have been ongoing negotiations between Russian and US officials discussing a possible prisoner swap. A Russian arms dealer dubbed ‘The Merchant of Death’ could well be involved in Griner being returned to America in exchange.

Thursday, August 4 at 5:49pm

A court in Russia has today, Thursday, August 4, found WNBA star Brittney Griner guilty of drug possession and smuggling. The 31-year-old will now await sentencing, but Nikolai Vlasenko, the prosecutor, has requested a 9 1/2 year prison term. He also asked for the court to fine her one million rubles (approx €16,000).

The US basketball star was detained at Moscow airport in February after vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage. She was making her way home after playing for a club in Yekaterinburg.

“I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of Yekaterinburg for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them” an emotional Griner told the court. She added: “I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organisation back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home”.

Her defence lawyer Maria Blagovolina had tried to convince the court that her client only used the vape cartridges while playing for Phoenix Mercury in Arizona, and had forgotten they were in her luggage. Griner had been prescribed the cannabis oil to treat a condition that gave her chronic pain, as reported by metro.co.uk.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com