In another devastating decision concerning Britney Griner’s future and freedom, Russian courts have denied the basketball start’s appeal of her nine year-sentence for drug possession and smuggling charges. The beleaguered Griner continues to hold out hope – although some report buy a thin thread – that she will ultimately be released in a prisoner exachange.
The Biden administration blasted the Russian court’s decision to deny her appeal calling it a “sham hearing.” The administration’s Jack Sullivan released this statement:
“We are aware of the news out of Russia that Brittney Griner will continue to be wrongfully detained under intolerable circumstances after having to undergo another sham judicial proceeding today. President Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately.
In recent weeks, the Biden-Harris Administration has continued to engage with Russia through every available channel and make every effort to bring home Brittney as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia, including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan. The President has demonstrated that he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths and make tough decisions to bring Americans home, as his Administration has done successfully from countries around the world.
The Administration remains in regular touch with representatives of the families, and we continue to admire their courage in the face of these unimaginable circumstances.”
Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison after a Russian judge found her guilty of smuggling and storing illegal drugs.
Griner, a WNBA star for the Phoenix Mercury, traveled to Russia in February to play basketball in order to earn a higher salary. She earned $227,000 playing in the WNBA and over $1 million playing in Russia.
On Feb. 17, Griner, 31, was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Khimki after Russian authorities found vape cartridges containing hashish oil.
Last week, Griner testified that she did not intentionally bring the oil with her and only had it for medical reasons.
President Joe Biden responded to the verdict by issuing the following statement: “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, “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,” Biden said.