Basketball Star Detained in Russia After Going Through Airport Security, Now Expected to Be Sentenced Soon

UPDATE, August 4, 2022, at 11:15 a.m.: Brittney Griner has been found guilty of drug smuggling and is sentenced to 9 years in prison, six months after she was detained in a Russian airport on her way back to the United States. At the time, the WNBA star had less than 1 gram of cannabis oil with her, something she admitted to overlooking when trying to get home.

In her final plea to the court, Griner said this:

“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here. I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawns and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom. I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime.”

UPDATE, August 4, 2022, at 8:45 a.m.: As closing arguments wrap up, Russian prosecutors request that WNBA and Olympic superstar Brittney Griner serve nine-and-a-half years for having cannabis oil vape pens in her luggage. Griner has already been incarcerated for the last six months.

Basketball Star Brittney Griner Detained in Russia After Going Through Airport Security, Now Expected to Be Sentenced Soon

Griner has admitted to possessing the vape pens but denies doing so “deliberately,” as prosecutors claim. Griner is expected to be sentenced sometime later today. As ESPN reported, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in an attempt to convince him to accept the deal that would see Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, go free in exchange for a Russian prisoner, who is considered “one of the world’s most notorious arms dealers.”

UPDATE, July 7, 2022: Brittney Griner is now facing up to 10 years in prison after she entered a plea to the drug charges against her. According to the BBC, Griner pleaded guilty in a Russian court.

However, despite pleading guilty, Griner was steadfast in that she didn’t “deliberately” break the law. While explaining her actions, Griner admitted that she didn’t intend on traveling with her oil vape cartridges.

As At the Buzzer previously reported, Griner was arrested while in an airport near Moscow when her cannabis oil vape cartridges were confiscated from her luggage. “I was in a rush packing and the cartridges accidentally ended up in my bag,” Griner explained to the court.

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” she further added.

WNBA superstar and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia. According to reports, Griner was arrested after customs officers discovered vapes with hashish oil inside of them in her luggage.

Basketball Star Detained in Russia After Going Through Airport Security

As The New York Times reports, it is believed that Griner was first arrested in February, and is believed to have been detained since then. Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, seemingly confirmed the report in a statement given to The Times. 

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“We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA.” It’s believed Griner was in Russia to play basketball.

The Times reports that Griner was the last WNBA player to leave Russia and Ukraine.

“As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern,” Colas continued.

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The WNBA also released a statement in support of Griner, saying that she has their “full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States.”

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In an updated warning to U.S. citizens, the State Department again urged Americans not to travel to Russia, adding that Americans in Russia should leave immediately over concerns that the war in Ukraine could result in “potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials.”

Former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael A. McFaul, told The Times that while he doesn’t know the specifics of Griner’s legal issues, her arrest should serve as a wake-up call to all Americans in Russia. Get out. Shut down your businesses now.”

As The New York Times reports, the large-scale transportation of drugs investigation is still ongoing. It could carry a 10-year sentence in Russia. 

basketball star brittney griner detained in russia
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U.S. officials believe that the “trumped-up charges” and the detainment of one of WNBA’s biggest stars could be an attempt by Russia to gain leverage against the United States as huge sanctions are being imposed on Russia due to the situation in Ukraine.

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