Tuesday, March 5, 2024
World News

RUSSIA JAILS AMERICAN ATHLETE, BIDEN REACTS

A US female basketball player, Brittney Griner has been sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia for bringing cannabis-infused vape cartridges into the country, a sentence that President Joe Biden has called “unacceptable.”

Griner was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs by police after the ruling, turning to reporters and saying: “I love my family”.

BRITTNEY AND WIFE

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star, was arrested in mid-February as she arrived to play for a Russian side during the WNBA offseason.

Her case threw the Texan into the geopolitical maelstrom triggered when President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, propelling U.S.-Russian relations to a new post-Cold War low.

Her sentencing could now pave the way for a U.S.-Russia prisoner swap that would include the 31-year-old athlete and an imprisoned Russian who was once a prolific arms dealer.

Griner had admitted having the vape cartridges containing hashish oil but said she had made an honest mistake by inadvertently packing them.

Before the verdict, she tearfully pleaded with a Russian judge not to “end her life” with a harsh prison sentence.

The court also fined her 1 million roubles ($16,990). 

Speaking on the matter, US President Joe Biden has described the punishment as “unacceptable and called for her release.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” he said in a statement.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”

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