As Trade Deal Sits in Limbo Following Counteroffer, Russia Seeks 9.5 Year Sentence for Brittney Griner

Russian prosecutors have asked for a sentence of nine and a half years for WNBA star Brittney Griner after she brought hashish oil cartridges into the country. The items were found in her luggage upon her arrival in the country.

Griner was set to play in the Russian Premier League during the WNBA off-season and had brought the illegal substance with her. She has since claimed she was unaware they were illegal and has provided a prescription for the cannabis.

Griner has been held in Russian custody since late February of this year. Her apprehension has created an uproar among many in the United States and many people including Lebron James have been critical of the fact that Griner is still being held in Russia.

Joe Biden signed an executive order recently in an effort to sanction anyone associated with wrongfully detaining American citizens. This seemed to come in response to the pressure he has faced on securing the release of Griner.

Even more recently, the United States presented a trade offer for Griner and was met with a counter offer in which Russia requested the release of a convicted murderer in addition to what the United States originally offered.

The verdict in the case is anticipated today. Griner said to the court yesterday asking for leniency, “I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here”.

In her full statement to the court, she said, “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 pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom. I want to say again that I had no intent of breaking Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime.”

Griner was taken into custody shortly before Russia invaded the country of Ukraine. Griner has maintained she didn’t intend to break the law and has pleaded ignorance.

For now, Griner’s fate is still up in the air.