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Brittney Griner Convicted in Russia, Sentenced to 9 Years

Griner 31, faced a total of 10 years in prison.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA player Brittney Griner (C) is escorted to hear the court's verdict in Khimki City Court outside Moscow on Thursday. Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE
Two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA player Brittney Griner (C) is escorted to hear the court’s verdict in Khimki City Court outside Moscow on Thursday. Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE

A Russian court found WNBA star Brittney Griner guilty on Thursday on drug smuggling and possession charges and sentenced her to nine years in jail, in a case stemming from cannabis oil that was found in her luggage earlier this year.

The verdict came after closing arguments in Griner’s trial at a court near Moscow. She has been in a Russian jail for almost six months since her arrest at Moscow’s airport in February with two vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her bags.

Griner, 31, who’d faced a total of 10 years in prison, pleaded guilty to the charges last month in a bid for leniency from the court. In Russia, criminal trials play out in court even if a defendant pleads guilty.

Cannabis is illegal in Russia, but Griner’s attorneys have argued that she has a valid medical prescription and that she didn’t intentionally pack the cartridges.

In its verdict Thursday, the court rejected those arguments and sentenced her to nine years in a Russian penal colony and a fine of 9 million rubles, equal to about $150,000.

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