Houston native and Baylor graduate Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court. She was also fined 1 million rubles or about $16,000. The 31-year-old WNBA star was convicted of drug possession.
President Joe Biden called the verdict and sentence unacceptable. The U.S. State Department continues to negotiate for her release, presumably through a prisoner exchange.
Griner made a statement apologizing to her family, Russian teammates and the Russian city where she plays.
Human Rights Campaign released the following statement:
Today, WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison. In response, Human Rights Campaign Interim President Joni Madisonissued the following statement of support for Griner:
“Over the past several months, the world has watched with growing concern as Brittney Griner – an American hero who is so much more than a WNBA superstar and Olympian – continues to be unlawfully detained in Russia. We join with so many of Brittney’s loved ones – her friends, teammates, and family – in sending her support as she endures this unimaginable hardship, so far from home.
“Today’s harsh sentencing is merely the latest example of how she is being used as a political pawn – and it has to stop. It is long past time that we bring Brittney home and we support the Biden administration’s efforts to do so.”
— David Taffet