Texan basketball star Brittney Griner sentenced to 9 years | The Texas Tribune

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    A Russian court on Thursday sentenced Brittney Griner, a WNBA basketball star and Houston native, to nine years in prison for smuggling illegal drugs into the country.

    griner pleaded guilty to the charges last month and apologized for the incident, calling it an “honest mistake.”

    The ruling is the latest somber development in a saga that began in February, when Russian authorities arrested Griner on the eve of that country’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

    griner’s allies remain hopeful that president joe biden will secure a prisoner swap for his release, just as he did earlier this year with another texan, ex-marine trevor reed.

    The notoriously harsh conditions in Russian prisons have added to the diplomatic urgency. but there are also specific concerns about the treatment of the griner, who is gay, in a country known for homophobic persecution. Last month, Biden administration officials offered to trade Griner and Paul Whelan, another American detained in Russia, for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer jailed in the United States.

    biden issued a statement after the sentence.

    “Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is yet another reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is arresting Brittney by mistake,” he said. “It is unacceptable and I ask Russia to release her immediately so that she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates.

    “my administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every avenue possible to bring brittney and paul whelan home safely as soon as possible.”

    griner entered the country in February and was arrested for bringing into the country less than one gram of cannabis oil in vape cartridges. Grner apologized during proceedings Thursday, saying he accidentally rushed packing to play professional basketball in Russia and “had no intention of breaking Russian law.”

    Gnerer was a star on the Baylor University Lady Bears basketball team from 2009-2013. He has played for the Mercury Phoenix since the 2013 draft, but also played basketball in China and Russia during the offseasons.


    while she resides in phoenix, several members of the texas congressional delegation have been in close contact with the state department on this matter. U.S. rep. sheila jackson lee, who represents the houston area where she grew up a griner, and u.s. rep. Colin Allred, a fellow Baylor University athlete and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, are very committed to securing her release.

    Disclosure: Baylor University has been a financial supporter of the Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. financial backers play no role in tribune journalism. find a full list of them here.

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