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
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 and also fined her
1 million rubles (about $16,700). Sotnikova said the time Griner has served in custody since
her arrest in February would count toward the sentence. Griner reacted to the sentence
with little emotion, listening to the verdict with a blank stare on her face.
charges, and prosecutors had asked for a 9½-year sentence. Griner's defense lawyers said they
would appeal. The defense team said that in sentencing the court had ignored all evidence it had
presented and Griner's guilty plea. Defense attorney Maria Blagovolina told reporters
later that Griner was "very upset, very stressed. She can hardly talk. It's a difficult time for her."