| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Russian court upholds U.S. basketball star Griner’s 9-year drug sentence

The appeal of American WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner against a nine-year sentence for having and smuggling vape cartridges containing cannabis oil was denied by a Russian court on Tuesday.

Griner and her attorneys had requested acquittal or at the very least a reduction in her sentence, which they claimed was unfairly harsh and inconsistent with Russian court custom.

The verdict was affirmed “without alterations,” according to the presiding judge, with the exception of the inclusion of pre-trial detention time in the punishment.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, was arrested on Feb. 17 at a Moscow airport, a week before Russia sent troops into Ukraine, and her case has inevitably been viewed in the context of the ensuing crisis in U.S.-Russian relations.

The U.S. chargee d’affaires in Moscow, Elizabeth Rood, who attended the hearing, called the sentence “excessive and disproportionate”.

The state prosecutor said Griner’s Aug. 4 sentence of nine years in a penal colony was “fair”, but Alexander Boykov, one of her lawyers, told the court:

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

  • Reuters