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    WNBA Star Brittney Griner Sentenced To 9 Years, Fined For Drug Charges


    Russian Court Finds Griner Guilty

    Day 168 of being detained in Russia, WNBA star Brittney Griner’s nightmare continues. The Russian court convicted and sentenced the WNBA and FIBA star to nine years in prison for drug charges. Griner’s overall time will include the 5 1/2-month detention previously served in Russia.

    Griner plead guilty during her first appearance in Russian court. The purpose of her guilty plea was a strategy to encourage a prisoner swap. The option of exchanging prisoners is still a possibility. President Biden approved the prisoner swap that would release both Griner and Paul Whelan, former marine detained in Russia since 2018, in exchange for Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout. Bout aka the “Merchant of Death” is currently serving 25 years in US prison.

    Although the Department of Justice does not support prisoner trades, Biden’s decision overrides the DOJ’s stance. Unfortunately, until Russian officials agree to the terms of the prisoner swap, both Griner and Whelan will need to seek other options as they continue to serve their time.

    In addition to a sentence of nine years, Judge Sotnikova fined Griner for 1 million rubles (approximately $16,400). Before the court reached their verdict, Griner apologized, begging for forgiveness and mercy. Her emotional speech and remorseful actions throughout the trial supposedly influenced the judge to lower her sentence. Nine years in Russian prison and paying a fee of $16,400 is Russia’s way of being generous to our fellow American.

    Griner’s Cry for Help

    During her speech, Griner explained, “I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here.”

    The WNBA star left from New York to Russia to play overseas during the off season which most WNBA players do for extra money. Griner   further explained to the court that she packed in such a hurry, she accidentally packed the cannabis oils she was accused of smuggling into Russia.

    More specifically Griner exclaimed, “I want the court to understand that it was an honest mistake that I made while rushing, under stress, trying to recover from post covid and just trying to get back to my team.”

    Despite her claims the Russian court says her actions were deliberate.

    Trial Recap

    The corrupt actions of Russia began in Moscow airport on February 17. During her trial her legal team exposed Russia for improper arrest. Griner was not only interrogated without a lawyer, but her rights were never explained to her. Officials forced her to sign papers that she did not understand due to the language barrier. The whole situation was affected by the language barrier as the WNBA star recalls having to use Google translate.

    Many things about her case are questionable. After the improper arrest took place, things continue to go downhill for Griner, the 6’9 female athlete who is being kept in a cage.

    Through her statements and actions, it is clear Griner fears for her life. Griner’s reaction to her sentence was a simple blank stare. Her emotionless reaction illustrates how tired the WNBA star truly is. The entire situation is out of her hands. Griner’s past drug test and prescription of medical marijuana demonstrates her innocence to the court. However, due to the tension between the United States and Russia, because of the war in Ukraine, Griner’s unfortunate circumstances couldn’t have come at a worse time. It is possible that Russia is using Griner as a political pawn.

    War on Minorities

    In one of the darkest moments of her life, Griner continues to be criticized and bashed by hateful comments. She identifies with many minority groups in the United States. It is almost as if the lives of African American, masculine women who identify with the LGBTQ+ community do not matter.

    The minority community and those who support Griner are furious with the news regarding her sentence. Especially since having barely a gram of medically-prescribed marijuana for sports related injuries is not worth nine years in Russian prison.

    Others feel that she is getting exactly what she deserves; many of these critics are Republicans. Not only is there war in Ukraine, but in the United States, there has been at war with many minority groups. Griner belongs to several of marginalized groups as an African American lesbian female. Each of which Republicans do not necessarily stand by with the utmost support. African Americans continue to fight battles for centuries, as do women and the LGBTQ+ community. Thus, it is not surprising that America is yet to come to the rescue of our fellow sister.

    No part of Griner’s identity singly defines the person she is. She should not be classified or judged based on the minority groups she belongs to. She goes to Russia every offseason to win championships for UMMC Ekaterinburg. Throughout her life, she has always been a role model. She impacts the lives of many young female basketball players. The WNBA star’s wrongful detention will deeply change and affect her life moving forward. Unfortunately Brittney Griner never be able to play the game she loves again.

    Please share your thoughts on WNBA star Brittney Griner’s nine-year sentence and the outlandish drug charges.

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