The verdict is in and it is not necessarily good news for WNBA star Brittney Griner and her legion of fans. Today a Russian court sentenced Griner to nine years in prison, which could set the stage for a potential prisoner swap between Russia and the U.S.:
A Russian court sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison Thursday, an expected conclusion to her trial that should allow negotiations for a prisoner swap to accelerate.
Griner, who was arrested Feb. 17 for bringing cannabis into the country, had been prepared for a harsh sentence, sources close to the player said. But she and her supporters have also been aware that Russia was not going to move forward with a trade that could bring her home until her trial was completed. A guilty verdict was considered a foregone conclusion, and Griner pleaded guilty July 7, though the case continued under Russian law.
During sentencing, Judge Anna Sotnikova said she had found that Griner intentionally broke the law. Prosecutors had asked for a 9½-year sentence.
Sotnikova said the time Griner has served in custody since her arrest in February would count toward the sentence.
WNBA Griner was detained in Russia in February to attempting to transport drugs through a Russian airport. Griner’s detention turned into an international event due to her star power. Several people – including WNBA players, NBA players like LeBron James and Griner’s wife – have lobbied the Biden Administration to step in and bring Griner home.
Chatter suggests the Biden administration has offered to trade global arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and U.S. another person held in a Russian prison, U.S. marine Paul Whelan. The notorious Viktor Bout is known to have led to death and destruction around the globe. Turning him over to the Russians could be high price to pay for the for Griner and Whelan, and that assumes Russia accepts the terms.
The fact that Americans want Griner back is the world’s worst kept secret. The above video, Trump and the GE: Will Putin Have Mercy On Brittney Griner?, explains why Putin and Russia are sitting in the catbird seat.
Putin and Russia knows w