Today, WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison and a fine of $16,000.
A Russian court has found Brittney Griner guilty on drug smuggling and possession charges. The widely expected verdict comes after a monthlong trial and nearly six months after the basketball star was arrested at a Moscow-area airport with cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage. She plead guilty to mitigate time and to assume a measure of accountability, albeit noting her oversight about Russian law and that it was not her intention to break their law.
African Human Rights Coalition's Executive Director Melanie Nathan notes: “ Brittney Griner is an American sports hero, a WNBA superstar and Olympian Gold medalist, and now a pawn for Russia's political gain. She was unlawfully detained in Russia and now has been subjected to a judgment and sentence that is clearly illegitimate given, inter alia, that it does not comport with Russian law. This flagrantly breaches Griner's human rights.
It is clear that Russian politics served as motivation for the harsh 9 year sentence, as the Russians know that the harsher the sentence the more likely a valuable Russian asset/s will be used in an exchange. It is a shame that the U.S. revealed its hand before sentencing.
As a global organization we fully support Griner 's freedom, and the quest to have her human rights restored so that she can be free to return home. The sports world and global governments must speak out and the Biden administration must do all in its power to bring Brittney home."