Griner convicted, sentenced to nine years
WNBA star Brittney Griner sat with a blank face in a courtroom outside Moscow on Thursday as a translator told her she would face nine years in a Russian prison after a judge convicted her of drug possession. Police arrested the 31-year-old on Feb. 17 after finding cannabis oil in her luggage. The verdict ends Griner’s courtroom drama but may not signal her final legal state: The U.S. Embassy’s chargé d’affaires, Elizabeth Rood, said President Joe Biden and the rest of the U.S. government are committed to getting Griner home.
Will a prisoner exchange take place? Last month, the Biden administration proposed a prisoner swap to Russia: Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. An attorney for Bout said he’s certain it will take place. Convictions are usually a prerequisite for prisoner exchanges, and Griner can now seek a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Dig deeper: Read Andrew Branch’s report from the WORLD archives about how the WNBA has promoted gay pride but left space for dissent.
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