Brittney Griner was convicted on drug charges by a Russian court and sentenced to nearly a decade behind bars. According to the New York Times, the WNBA champion was found guilty of an attempt to smuggle illegal narcotics into the country and was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony.
The judge also issued Griner a fine of one million rubles which totals about $16,300. Griner’s legal team has reportedly responded to the sentencing, calling it “absolutely unreasonable” and promised to file an appeal.
Ahead of the closing arguments, Griner issued an apology to her supporters.
“I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans, and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them,” Griner said according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home.”
She continued, saying it was “an honest mistake,” adding: “hope in your ruling, it does not end my life.”
Griner was arrested in February at the Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport for carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil, a banned substance in Russia. She has remained in Russian custody for the past five months. In July, she pleaded guilty to the drug charges.
She stated while in court, “I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law.” She added, “I’d like to give my testimony later. I need time to prepare.”