Brittney Griner Sentenced to Nine Years by Russian Court

Brittney Griner Trial Starts on July 1, 2022. (Credit: YouTube/WCBS)

A Russian judge sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday to nine years in prison for drug possession and smuggling, the Associated Press reported.

Judge Anna Sotnikova said the time Griner has served since her arrest in February would be counted toward the sentence.

Just before the verdict was handed down, an emotional Griner apologized.

“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,” Griner said, according to the Associated Press. “I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home.”

Griner, an Olympic gold medalist, was detained at Moscow Airport on Feb. 17, after Russian officials said they found vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage. She was in Russia to play during the off-season.

She pleaded guilty to drug possession and smuggling charges last month.

The Biden administration is said to have offered to swap Griner and jailed American Paul Whelan for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving time in the United States.

Whelan, a U.S. citizen and former Marine, was arrested in December 2018 on espionage charges, which he and the U.S. government say are false.

The U.S. government has said Whelan and Griner were both “wrongfully detained.”