Brittney Griner sentence upheld, faces nine years in penal colony

brittney griner court russia lesbian
Images: Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons, ABC News

A Russian court has upheld basketball star Brittney Griner’s nine-year sentence for drug smuggling.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist was arrested on February 17 at a Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.

Griner’s defense team claimed she had packed the vapes by accident while leaving in a rush, and that she had been prescribed cannabis for pain.

In Russia, both recreational and medicinal use of marijuana is prohibited.

At the appeal, Griner and her lawyers had asked for acquittal or a more lenient sentence, they argued the nine-year sentence was disproportionate to the offense and at odds with Russian judicial practice, The New York Post reported.

“I really hope that the court will adjust this sentence because it has been very, very stressful and very traumatic,” Griner told the court.

“People with more severe crimes have gotten less than what I was given,” she added.

“No judge, hand on heart, will honestly say that Griner’s nine-year sentence is in line with Russian criminal law,” Griner’s lawyer Alexander Boykov said.

After reviewing the case for just 30 minutes, the presiding judge ruled the verdict was upheld “without changes”.

The White House called the legal proceedings a “sham”, and a top US diplomat who attended the hearing called the sentence “excessive and disproportionate”.

Griner is a “hostage”, says wife

Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, told CBS Mornings that Brittney was a “hostage” of the Russian government.

She said she does not know if the incarcerated American “has anything left in her tank to continue to wake up every day and be in a place where she has no-one”.

Griner is now expected to be moved to a penal colony.

ESPN investigative reporter T.J. Quinn said there were concerns Griner would be in danger if she was to be transferred.

“Her bigger concern right now is where is she going to be kept while she’s in Russia,” Quinn said.

“When she was sentenced on August 4 they sentenced her to serve her sentence in a penal colony. A Moscow jail might not be any fun, but a penal colony is far worse and potentially dangerous for her.

“Now the clock is starting to run on a transfer to that colony. Her lawyers say it could take weeks, it could take months.

“The hope is that a negotiation — which is still how the US expects her to come home — can be completed before she is actually sent to that colony.”



Sarah Davison
Sarah Davison

After working in print and radio, Sarah has joined the team at QNews to expand their coverage into South Australia. Sarah has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, and a Masters in Journalism, Media, and Communications. Get in touch:

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1 Comment

  1. Paul
    27 October 2022

    This basketball star chose to go to Russia and that is the consequence of her personal responsibility same with Ukraine, Iran, Somalia and Syria. If an individual chooses to go to a “rogue war state” that is on them no sympathy! Same with carrying bags stuffed full of drugs to Asia – knowing full well of the death penalty as a penalty. ➡️

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