Update: Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison late this morning ESR.
Russian prosecutors asked a court outside Moscow to sentence American basketball star and America hater Brittney Griner to 9 1/2 years in prison as closing arguments in her cannabis possession trial were made Thursday.
“I ask you to appoint nine years and six months in prison with a sentence in a general regime colony with a fine of 1 million rubles ($16,500),” the state prosecutor was quoted as requesting to the judge, according to RIA.
Griner, 31, a Black Lives Matter activist, has been detained in Russia since February 17, after banned hashish oil vape cartridges were found in her luggage at Sheremetyevo Airport on the outskirts of the Russian capital.
The two-time Olympic champion has pleaded guilty in her case, but said the cartridges ended up in her luggage unintentionally.
Griner was traveling to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason in her homeland – a move she has made for the past several years.
The decision comes down this evening.
A lawyer on Griner’s defense team, Maria Blagovolina, argued that Griner inadvertently brought the cartridges with her to Russia and only used cannabis as medicine while in Arizona, where medical marijuana is legal. A prosecutor, Nikolai Vlasenko, argued that Griner packed the cannabis oil deliberately.
Before her trial began in July, the State Department designated her as “wrongfully detained,” moving her case under the supervision of its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.
That didn’t go over well with Russia. They keep complaining about it on RT.
Then last week, in an extraordinary move, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, urging him to accept a deal under which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would go free. That would be in exchange for Viktor Bout, the Merchant of Death..
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday that Russia has made a “bad faith” response to the U.S. government’s offer, a counteroffer that American officials don’t consider serious. She declined to elaborate.
However, CNN later said Moscow wants Vadim Krasikov, a Russian national convicted of murder in Germany last year, to be included in a potential prisoner exchange.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke to Blinken last week after a request from Washington, officials in Moscow confirmed.
Russian officials have scoffed at U.S. statements about the case, saying they show a disrespect for Russian law. They remained poker-faced, urging Washington to discuss the issue through “quiet diplomacy without releases of speculative information.”
We do hope we get Griner back soon and we also hope she appreciates the USA a bit more when she gets here.