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WNBA player Brittney Griner sentenced to 9 years by Russian judge

Brittney Griner
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a court room after her last words, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. Closing arguments in Brittney Griner’s cannabis possession case are set for Thursday, nearly six months after the American basketball star was arrested at a Moscow airport in a case that reached the highest levels of US-Russia diplomacy. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

(MOSCOW) After pleading guilty to drug possession, WNBA star Brittney Griner was handed a 9 year sentence by a Russian court.

The basketball player from the Phoenix Mercury was caught with vape cartridges containing hashish oil when Russian authorities searched her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport in February.

The substance is legal in the U.S. but is banned in Russia.

Griner pled guilty to having the cartridges but maintained they were packed inadvertently.

The Biden administration decried the sentence in a statement on Thursday and called for her immediate release.

U.S. officials are negotiating a prisoner swap that would free a Russian arms dealer from a U.S. prison in exchange for Griner and American Paul Whelan who was been jailed in Russia since 2020.