Russian court sentences Griner to 9 years
A Russian court has found American WNBA star Brittney Griner guilty and sentenced her to nine years in a penal colony for carrying cannabis oil into the country. Last month, Griner pleaded guilty to the charges. The US State Department says the 31-year-old Phoenix Mercury player, who was arrested in February at Moscow airport, has been wrongfully detained and used as a political pawn amid Russia’s deteriorating relations with the West. In recent weeks, the Biden administration reportedly offered to exchange Viktor Bout — a Russian arms dealer known as “the Merchant of Death” currently serving a 25-year sentence in the US — in exchange for the release of Griner and Paul Whelan, a former US marine who has been locked up in Russia since 2018 for alleged spying. After the verdict was handed down, President Biden said that his “administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely.” Talks have been going on behind the scenes about the possible swap, but Putin has so far remained mum on whether he’ll accept the deal.