Brittney Griner's supporters react to her 9-year prison sentence in Russian drug case

·5 min read

A Russian court on Thursday found Phoenix Mercury player Brittney Griner guilty on a drug smuggling charge, and sentenced her to nine years in prison. Griner has been detained since Feb. 17, when she was detained at a Russian airport when authorities found a vape cartridge containing hashish oil in her luggage. Griner was also fined $1 million rubles, which is approximately $16,300.

Griner's wife, teammates and fellow WNBA players, as well as athletes from all over sports, have been calling for her release ever since. The U.S. government recently proposed a prisoner swap that would have released convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout from jail in the U.S. in exchange for Griner and fellow jailed American Paul Whelan, who is currently serving a 16-year sentence for espionage.

After Griner's nine-year sentence was handed down, President Joe Biden released a statement calling her continued detention "unacceptable."

The WNBA and NBA released a joint statement about Griner's sentence.

As did the WNBA Players Association and the Mercury.

Griner's agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, wrote in a three-part tweet:

"Today’s sentencing of Brittney Griner was severe by Russian legal standards and goes to prove what we have known all along, that Brittney is being used as a political pawn. We appreciate and continue to support the efforts of [President Joe Biden] and [Secretary Antony Blinken] to get a deal done swiftly to to bring Brittney, Paul [Whelan] and all Americans home. Bringing Brittney and Paul home is the sole objective, and as such, we should use all available tools. We must remain focused and unified.

"This is a time for compassion and a shared understanding that getting a deal done to bring Americans home will be hard, but it is urgent and it is the right thing to do."

There was also a showing of both outrage and love from her many supporters, who are hoping she'll continue to be strong until the U.S. negotiates her release.

Several reporters tweeted important information about the true context of Griner's sentence, noting that after her appeals are exhausted, the U.S. government can then work toward getting her home.

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