Back in February, Russian authorities arrested WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner. The standout athlete for the Phoenix Mercury was taken into custody after officials located vape cartridges containing hashish oil within her belongings while at a Moscow airport. Since then, Russia has detained the 31-year-old as she potentially faced up to 10 years in prison.
Now, after months of coverage and much suspense on Griner’s part, Russia’s court system has finally decided the verdict. The official ruling was revealed Thursday after closing statements were made earlier in the day. According to The Associated Press, Russian prosecutors were seeking a 9 1/2-year prison sentence for Griner.
Following the closing arguments, authorities came to a verdict soon after. Per GMA, Brittney Griner has officially been found guilty of the charges filed against her and will face a prison sentence in Russia. Additionally, she will also have to pay a fine.
Thursday’s verdict came after Griner’s legal team made a final push on Tuesday to try and clear her name. Now, the WNBA star officially knows what’s next for her. Although she didn’t go free, there’s still a possibility of a prisoner swap taking place between Russia and the U.S.
Will Russia Work With the U.S. On a Prisoner Swap?
With Brittney Griner now officially sentenced in Russia, she joins another American behind bars in the Moscow area – former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. While Griner has been behind bars since February, Whelan has been locked up since December 2018.
The U.S. has been in contact with Russia to swap Griner and Whelan for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, but there’s been no development as of this time. United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken claims that the U.S. “put a substantial offer on the table” for the swap, but Russia says there’s been no further conversations.
Only time will tell if the U.S. is able to get Griner back home.