Brittney Griner has been sentenced to nine years in prison on drug smuggling charges in Russia.
The White House has said that it continues to work on a deal to exchange prisoners with Russia to bring Griner back to the United States, and called the sentencing “unacceptable.”
The courts had been seeking the maximum ten-year prison sentence for the charges.
“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,” President Joe Biden 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. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”
Griner has been detained since February after Russian officials claim vape cartridges containing cannabis oil was found in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. As a result, Russian officials launched a drug trafficking investigation into the 31-year-old Phoenix Mercury star. She was charged with “large-scale transportation of drugs.”
For the last seven years, Griner has played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason. She last played on January 29 before a two-week break for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.
While Griner is being detained, the WNBA is honoring her with a “BG42” logo on every court.