President Joe Biden reacted to the news that a Russian court sentenced WNBA player Brittney Griner to nine years in prison after being found guilty for drug smuggling and possession.
Fox News reported that “a Russian judge convicted Griner of drug possession and drug smuggling and sentenced her to 9 years in prison. She was also fined one million rubles, the equivalent of about $16,200.” She faced a 10-year prison sentence.
Griner had previously plead guilty saying, “I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law.”
Before her sentencing Griner addressed the court saying, “I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them.”
“I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home,” she continued. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling it doesn’t end my life here.”
President Joe Biden issued a statement following Griner’s sentence that reads, “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.”
“My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Birttney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible,” he concluded.
In the United States of America, drug possession is still a federal crime and illegal. Boston University notes that criminals found guilty of possessing less than 50 kg of marijuana can face up to 5 years in prison and be fined up to $250,000.
Nevertheless, Biden’s statement echoes Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s recent comments. At the end of July he said, “In the coming days, I expect to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov for the first time since the war began. I plan to raise an issue that’s a top priority for us: the release of Americans Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, who have been wrongfully detained and must be allowed to come home.”
He went on to reveal that he had put forth a proposal to Russia in order to obtain the release of Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan’s release.
“We put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release,” he said. “Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal. And I’ll use the conversation to follow up personally and, I hope, move us toward a resolution.”
That proposal allegedly involves swapping convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout for both Griner and Whelan.
Reuters reported, “One source familiar with the situation said that Washington was willing to exchange convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout, whose life helped inspire the 2005 Hollywood film Lord of War starring Nicholas Cage.”
President Donald Trump is not a fan of the proposed deal. He appeared on The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show where he said, “She knew you don’t go in there loaded up with drugs and she admitted. I assume she admitted it without too much force because it is what it is,” President Trump elaborated.
He then declared, “And it certainly doesn’t seem like a very good trade does it. He’s an absolute, one of the worst in the world, and he’s going to be given his freedom because a potentially spoiled person goes into Russia loaded up with drugs.”