Britney Grenier was found guilty and sentenced to 9 years in prison for drug possession in Russia | Pro IQRA News

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WNBA star Britney Greiner was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia on Thursday for allegedly having a small amount of cannabis in vape cartridges packed into luggage she brought through Moscow airport earlier this year.

Russian prosecutors asked the judge to sentence the Phoenix Mercury player to nine and a half years in prison. Face up to 10 years.

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However, any ruling will be overturned if the US and Russian authorities conclude a deal on the prisoner exchange. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken confirmed last week that the United States had made a “substantial offer,” reportedly proposing to exchange Greiner and another American prisoner, former Marine Paul Whelan, for convicted Russian arms dealer Victor Bout.

Greiner pleaded guilty to drug possession charges, but said in court Thursday she had made an honest mistake and apologized for causing an “embarrassment” to her Russian teammates.

“I also want to apologize to my parents, siblings, the Phoenix Mercury at home, the amazing women in the WNBA, and my amazing wife at home,” she added. Greiner has been married to his wife, Sheryl Greiner, since 2019.

“I know everyone keeps talking about ‘political pawn’ and politics, but I hope it’s out of this courtroom,” she said, according to multiple outlets. “I want to say once again that I had no intention of breaking Russian laws. I had no intention. I neither conspired nor planned to commit this crime.”

Griner was arrested in February while passing through customs at Sheremetyevo Airport, outside Moscow, for allegedly carrying 0.702 grams of cannabis oil, a product containing cannabis, in vape cartridges. Days later, Russia invaded Ukraine. Greiner’s arrest was announced in early March, raising fears that her arrest was too political, and Blinken later declared her an unlawful detainee.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist has been playing in Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA’s off-season periodically since 2014, with women’s basketball players often getting better paid overseas than in the United States.

In a handwritten letter to President Joe Biden that was partially released to the media, Greiner said she was “terrified” that she might not see what’s outside a Russian prison.

White House press secretary Karen-Jean-Pierre told reporters that Biden had read the letter and that US officials would “use every tool possible” to bring Grenier home.

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