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WNBA superstar and political prisoner Brittney Griner was sentenced Thursday in a Russian penal colony to nearly 10 years in prison after she was convicted of what the country claimed was drug smuggling last spring.

Griner was arrested in March for possessing several marijuana vape cartridges, her attorney claim She owns it for medicinal purposes. Her detention and subsequent trial were largely seen as a gesture by Russia as it continues its imperial expansionist invasion of Ukraine in the face of widespread condemnation in the West.

In early July, Griner pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana in a Russian court, explaining that she was simply packing her bags in a hurry and “unintentionally” breaking the law.

“I want to apologise to my team-mates, my club, my fans and the city (of Yekaterinburg) for the mistakes I made and the embarrassment I caused them,” Greener said at trial“I also want to apologize to my parents, my siblings, my Phoenix Mercury organization in my hometown, the amazing women in the WNBA, and my amazing spouse in my hometown.”

The U.S. State Department has identified Griner as “wrongly detained,” and administration officials have struggled Arrange for a senior prisoner exchange Work with Russia to ensure her return. Those efforts have so far failed, although her nine-year sentence and a fine of about $17,000 could revive the government’s attempt to bring Griner home from what is widely seen as a punitive political effort by the beleaguered Russian government.

In a sign of how seriously the White House took the Greener case (if it was too late), President Joe Biden issued a statement immediately after the sentencing, reiterating that “this is yet another reminder of what the world already knows: Russia wrongly detained Bran. Ni.”

“This is unacceptable,” Biden continued. “I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, family, friends and teammates. My government will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to allow Britney and Paul Hui Lan go home safely as soon as possible.”

Former U.S. Marine Whelan arrested, Sentenced for espionage in 2020he denied.

Following Greener’s conviction, her defense lawyers said the Russian court “completely disregarded all of the defense’s evidence and, most importantly, her guilty plea.” They have vowed to appeal the ruling.

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