Per NPR, Griner was found guilty by a Russian court on Thursday of charges including drug smuggling and possession. Shortly after this announcement, it was also confirmed (as seen below) that Griner had received a sentence of nine years.
“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 earlier on Thursday, per a report from the Associated Press. She also mentioned her family and “my amazing spouse back at home,” as well as expressed gratitude toward for the Phoenix Mercury organization.
President Biden released a statement after the verdict and sentence in Griner’s case were announced. “Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” it read. “It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”
Prior to Thursday’s announcement, per AP, prosecutors in Russia had asked the court to sentence the WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist to nine and a half years in prison. Griner was initially arrested at an airport in Moscow back in February, with local authorities saying at the time that they had found “vape cartridges” during a baggage search. Those cartridges, they claimed, contained hash oil.
A statement from a WNBA rep the following month saw the league expressing its “full support” of Griner and noted the priority was to make sure she received a “swift and safe return” back to the U.S. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has repeatedly criticized the situation as an example of a wrongful detainment.
In July, both President Biden and Vice President Harris were confirmed by the White House to have spoken with Griner’s wife, Cherelle. According to a White House rep, the two reassured Cherelle “that [the president] is working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible.”
That same month, Reuters and other outlets had reported that Griner had pleaded guilty, with Griner quoted as having said “there was no intent” behind her actions. “I didn’t want to break the law,” she said at the time.
More recently, attention has turned to to talks of a trade between the U.S. and Russia involving a possible swap that, per AP sources, would see the return of both Griner and ex-Marine Paul Whelan in exchange for Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms dealer.