Khimki – A Russian court sentenced American basketballer Brittney Griner on Thursday to nine years in prison after finding her guilty of deliberately bringing cannabis-infused vape cartridges into Russia despite them being illegal.
Her sentencing could pave the way for a prisoner swap between the United States and Russia that will include Griner and an imprisoned Russian who was once a prolific arms dealer.
Griner, 31, earlier pleaded with a Russian judge not to “end her life” with a harsh prison sentence for bringing in vape cartridges containing hashish oil, before breaking down in tears in court.
The Russian prosecutor called for Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player, to be sentenced to 9-1/2 years prison if she was found guilty of bringing illegal drugs into the country.
Griner was detained at Sheremetyevo airport on February 17 in Moscow with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.
She pleaded guilty, but she said she had neither intended to bring a banned substance to Russia nor to hurt anybody.