WNBA star Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia for over five months, was found guilty on drug charges in a Moscow-area court Thursday. She was then sentenced to nine years in prison.
The judge found that Griner had criminal intent, and said she is guilty of smuggling and storing illegal drugs.
Griner, a 31-year-old Houston native who plays professional basketball for the Phoenix Mercury, was detained on Feb. 17 at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Khimki as she returned to Russia to play during the WNBA’s offseason. She was accused of having vape cartridges containing hashish oil, which is illegal in the country.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist, who appeared in court Thursday for the final hearing in her trial, was facing up to 10 years in prison, although 9 1/2 years is the maximum sentence with time served. Griner has a right to appeal.
Griner shared an emotional statement in court ahead of the verdict on Thursday morning. She apologized to her loved ones for the hurt that her detention has caused, and said that her parents instilled hard work in her and this value is what brought her to Russia.
The Phoenix Mercury star held up a photo of her Russian teammates on Thursday and said that she made “an honest mistake” by packing the vape cartridges in her bag.
The prosecutor argued that Griner’s guilt has been proven and also asked that Griner pay a $16,500 fine, which is about 1 million Russian roubles.
Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in court last month, saying that the vape cartridges containing hashish oil were in her luggage mistakenly and that she had no “intention” of breaking Russian law.
Her legal team told ABC News in a statement last month that her guilty plea was recommended by her Russian attorneys.
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