US President Joe Biden reacted Thursday to a Russian court finding WNBA star Brittney Griner guilty of drug smuggling, calling her sentence of nine years in prison “unacceptable.”
“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” Biden said in a statement.
He continued: “My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”
The Russian court said that Griner committed the crime deliberately and sentenced her to nine years of jail time and a fine of 1 million rubles (roughly $16,400). Griner was arrested with less than one gram of cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on Feb. 17, shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine.
The sentencing came as CNN has reported that the US has made a “substantial offer” with Russia of a proposed prisoner swap for Griner and Paul Whelan with convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.