Britney Griner was sentenced to 9 years in a Russian prison on the charges. Here’s what could happen next for the WNBA star

Now, Greener has returned to the detention center where she was held during a weeks-long trial as her lawyers vow to appeal the conviction and the Biden administration tries to negotiate her release.

During the trial, Griner pleaded guilty to wearing less than 1 gram cannabis oil in her luggage as she drove through the Moscow airport on 17 February. She testified in court that she was aware of Russia’s strict drug laws and had no intention of bringing cannabis into the country, saying she was in a hurry and “stress packing.”

Her lawyers hoped that a guilty plea and Griner’s statements of remorse would lead to a lighter sentence. She faced 10 years on the charges and prosecutors demanded that she be sentenced to 9.5 years in prison. In addition to her nine-year sentence, Griner must pay a fine of 1 million rubles, which is approximately $16,400.

“I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your decision my life does not end here,” Griner said in court before sentencing. “I know everyone keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope it’s far from this courtroom.”

The US State Department classified Griner as unlawfully detained. Biden administration offers to trade convicted Russian arms dealer for Griner and fellow American detainee Paul Whelan, CNN previously reported.
After sentencing, Greener’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Kolas, tweeted“Today’s sentencing of Britney Griner was harsh by Russian legal standards and proves what we have known all along that Britney is being used as a political pawn.”
This is stated in a statement by President Joe Biden. the sentence was “unacceptable” and demanded that she be returned to the US to be reunited with her family.

Here’s what’s next for Griner as she awaits her lawyers’ appeal and the US continues to negotiate for her release.

Lawyers appeal unfounded verdict

Griner’s lawyers will appeal the court’s decision, which they must do within 10 days of the verdict, said her lawyers Alexander Boikov and Maria Blagovolina, a partner at Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin & Partners.

“We are very disappointed with the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone, regardless of nationality. The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the admission of guilt, ”the statement said.

They called the verdict “completely unfounded” and insisted in their statement that the decision “contradicts existing judicial practice” in Russia.

Defense Expert Says Examination of Substance in Britney Griner's Vape Cartridges Violated Russian Law

Blagovolina told reporters that the average sentence for this type of crime is five years, adding that nearly a third of those convicted receive parole.

During the trial, lawyers argued that Griner’s detention was improperly conducted. Griner testified that she was forced to sign documents that she did not fully understand and were not given proper Russian translations of the documents.

The defense expert also testified that the examination of vape cartridges containing cannabis oil did not comply with Russian law.

US proposes prisoner exchange for Griner’s return

CNN reported last week that the Biden administration proposed a prisoner swap, offering to trade a convicted Russian arms dealer for Griner and Whelan. whelan, US citizen and former Marinewas sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2018 on charges of espionage after a trial deemed unfair by the US.

After Griner’s sentencing, National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said that “it depends on the Russian side whether the verdict opens the door to prisoner exchange negotiations.”

Joe Biden calls Britney Griner's sentence unacceptable
After the US proposed a prisoner exchange, Russia object by asking that convicted murderer Vadim Krasikov will also be released, several sources familiar with the discussion told CNN. The U.S. did not consider the retaliatory offer legal, in part because the request was made through an unofficial back channel.

Kirby reiterated on Thursday that the U.S. position remains that they want Russia to “bring the deal up because it’s good, it’s fair, and it gets Paul (Whelan) and Britney home.”

While U.S. officials have long opposed the prisoner trade, a successful Trevor Reid editionan American and former Marine who was imprisoned in Russia received bipartisan praise and was hailed as a political victory for the Biden administration.

Family and supporters continue to fight for her return

The trade offer followed months of pressure from the Griner family and members of the basketball community.

The star’s wife, Cherell Greener, has been candid about her wish that US officials take more substantial action to bring her wife back home. A few days after Sherel Griner expressed her disappointment in interview with CNNBiden and Vice President Kamala Harris called her to reassure her that they were committed to securing her wife’s release, the White House said. call reading.

Griner also had the continued support of her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury, as well as other members of the basketball community.

Before the start of Thursday night’s game between the Mercury and the Connecticut Sun, members of both teams joined hands in center court and honored Griner with a minute of silence for 42 seconds, wearing jersey number 42. After it ended, people in the crowd began to chant: “Bring her home! Bring her home!”

CNN’s Ellie Malloy, Chris Liacos, Natasha Bertrand, Frederic Pleitgen, Eric Levenson, Dakin Andone, Travis Caldwell, Jill Martin, Betsy Klein, Kate Sullivan and M.J. Lee contributed to this report.