Russian Court Jails US Basketball Star For 9 Years Over Drug Smuggling

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A Russian court has sentenced US basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison over drug smuggling on Thursday.

The US President Joe Biden called the ruling “unacceptable”. The court “found the defendant guilty” of smuggling and possessing “a significant amount of narcotics”, judge Anna Sotnikova told a court in the town of Khimki just outside Moscow.

Sotnikova sentenced Griner, 31, to nine years in prison and said she would also have to pay a fine of one million rubles ($16,590).

US President Joe Biden immediately released a statement, calling the Russian court’s sentencing of Griner “unacceptable.”

“Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. It’s unacceptable and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates,” Biden said in the statement.

The US president reiterated that he would “work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue” to repatriate Griner.

Griner’s trial accelerated in recent days as the United States and Russia discuss a potential prisoner swap that could involve the basketball star.

The six-foot-nine (2.06 metres) star was detained at a Moscow airport in February after she was found carrying vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage. The arrest came just days before Moscow launched its military intervention in Ukraine.

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