Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison today (Picture: AP)
The WNBA star, 31, was found guilty of drug possession and smuggling by a Russian court, after she was found with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in an airport in Moscow in February.
‘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,’ she said in court.
‘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.’
On Thursday, Russian prosecutor Nikolai Vlasenko had asked for the athlete to be sentenced to nine and a half years behind bars, in addition to a 1million ruble fine ($16,700), with her jail term confirmed today.
Following the news, stars have shared their support for Griner on social media.
Justin Bieber offered his help over the news (Picture: Getty)
Joe Biden issued a statement over the sentencing (Picture: AFP)
Sharing an article on the sentencing, Bieber wrote on Instagram: ‘This hurts. If anyone knows of anyway I can help please let me know.’
Bravo’s Andy Cohen simply tweeted: ‘BRING BRITTNEY HOME.’
‘Brittney Griner. Basketball star jailed for nine years on drug charges,’ Eric Idle penned.
‘So for invading a neighbor country that would be about 90,000 years for Putin on the same scale.’
As Mia Farrow added: ‘The Russian judge ignored everything Britney Griner had stated.
‘He sentenced her to 9 years in a “penal colony”. For carrying 2 vaping cartridges – medically prescribed. Damn. Heartbreaking.’
Griner pleaded guilty to the charges (Picture: AP)
US President Joe Biden called for Russia to release Griner ‘immediately’ in a statement.
‘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 read.
‘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 Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.’
A vape canister containing cannabis oil was found in Griner’s luggage at the beginning of the year, while she was traveling at Moscow airport after playing basketball for a club in Yekaterinburg.
She was taken into custody in February and she pleaded guilty to the charges, but insisted that she brought the vape cartridges into the country inadvertently.
Her lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, argued that she only used the cartridges in Arizona, where she plays for Phoenix Mercury.
Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona, and Griner was prescribed the drug to treat her chronic pain.
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