American Brittney Griner was sentenced to 9 years in prison in Moscow for smuggling and possessing cannabis oil, a substance banned in Russia. The 31-year-old top athlete was also fined around €16.000. Griner's lawyers appeal and Biden demands immediate release of US citizen.
Initially, the prosecutor demanded 9,5 years in prison for Griner, who was arrested in Moscow in February. She is said to be carrying cannabis oil in refills for a vape.
Griner indicated on Thursday that she was wrong, but emphasized that she did not do this intentionally. The basketball star had flown to Moscow because she was going to play for the Russian team UMMC Yekaterinburg between the American basketball seasons. “It was my mistake, but I didn't plan this crime. I never wanted to harm anyone or break the law. I hope you don't end my life here with a conviction."
Medical reasons for using cannabis oil
Griner – one of the best basketball players in the world – uses the oil in her homeland for medicinal reasons. In the VS A major change is underway when it comes to the decriminalization and legalization of CBD and cannabis oils for both recreational and medicinal use. However, that is not the case for many other countries. Certainly not for hot conservative Russia.
US President Joe Biden called Griner's lengthy prison sentence "unacceptable" and called on Russia to release her immediately "so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates." He does everything in his power to get her home safely.
Russia wouldn't be Russia if politics started right away. Griner may become 'direct object' in a prisoner swap between the US and Russia. There is talk of an exchange with arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving his sentence in the US. Paul Wheland may also be part of the trade. He was arrested in 2020 and sentenced to XNUMX years in prison for alleged espionage.
Source among others to Reuters (EN)