WNBA star Brittney Griner was found guilty of drug smuggling with criminal intent in a Russian court on Thursday.
The 6’9″ basketball star sat in her courtroom cage as the judge read the verdict.
Prosecutors are seeking 9.5 years in a penal colony.
Russian prosecutors asking for 9.5 years in prison for US basketball star Brittney Griner in case clearly being used as bargaining chip for a US prisoner swap. Here she is coming into courtroom today. Verdict expected this evening. pic.twitter.com/LZ9BTba6hE
— Andrew Roth (@Andrew__Roth) August 4, 2022
During closing arguments earlier in the day, Russian prosecutors asked for the two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist to be sentenced to 9.5 years in a penal colony, according to Tass, the Russian state-run news agency.
Griner, 31, was arrested and accused of possession of vape cartridges containing cannabis oil at a Moscow airport in February, during the lead-up to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine later that month. Maria Blagovolina, a lawyer for the Russian firm representing Griner, argued that the basketball star did not use marijuana while in Russia. Her defense team has maintained that Griner mistakenly packed the cartridges and that she was prescribed medical marijuana by a doctor for pain treatment.
Griner pleaded guilty in early July to bringing the cartridges into Russia, where she was playing during the WNBA’s offseason. Her lawyers have said the guilty plea was made as an admittance of responsibility and should be considered during sentencing.
Griner said she had no intention of breaking the law when she smuggled the cannabis oil into Russia during the off-season.
Brittney Griner said she had no intention of breaking the law when she brought cannabis oil into Russia. The two-time Olympic gold medalist was found guilty of drug smuggling with criminal intent by a Russian court on Thursday.https://t.co/im0ODOdF7o pic.twitter.com/MG1Mjnrifn
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) August 4, 2022