The basketball star was detained in Russia on 17 February, President Biden has called the verdict and sentencing “unacceptable”


Yesterday (4 August) a Russian court found WNBA superstar and two time gold medal Olympian Brittney Griner guilty of an attempt to smuggle illegal narcotics in Russia. According to her lawyers Brittney has been sentenced to nine years in a penal colony, she was also fined one million rubles. 

The queer athlete was detained in Russia on 17 February following security finding two vape cartridges of hashish oil in her luggage. Her Lawyers have maintained that Brittney had medical clearance for the substances in the US and that them being on her persons was a mistake made with no intention of breaking Russian law. There were no traces of cannabis found in Brittney’s system. 

Judge Anna Sotnikova of the Khimki Court handed down the verdict but stated that the court did take into account the above. According to The New York Times, one of Brittney’s lawyers, Maria Blagovolnia said that: “There should be a milder penalty.” 

From the beginning, Brittney’s lawyers have expressed little hope for her being acquitted. However the verdict is believed to be a necessary step for any future exchange on Brittney’s behalf. 

President Biden has called the verdict and sentencing “unacceptable” and stated that it is “one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney”.

Executive director of WNBPA, Terri Jackson, noted that after the “disappointing” and “unjust” sentencing, a prisoner exchange is the only way forward, stating that it is “critically important to B.G., to her family, to our country. We’re counting on this administration.”

Since February, there has been growing concern over Brittney’s wellbeing. This is an extremely dangerous situation, made all the more so by the fact that she is Black, masc and queer. We cannot begin to imagine what she is going through. We hope that this is indeed the next step to bringing her safely home. 

Our thoughts go out to Brittney, to her wife and her family. 


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