Brittney Griner sentenced to 9 years in a Russian penal colony: live updates

Friends and colleagues of WNBA star Brittney Griner have expressed their support and sadness after a Russian court found her guilty of attempting to smuggle illegal narcotics into Russia and sentenced her to nine years in a penal colony.

“I feel really sad and sick for Brittney and I hope she comes home as soon as possible,” said Breanna Stewart, a four-time WNBA All-Star who had played with Griner on the Russian team. UMMC Yekaterinburg since 2020. “Now that the trial is over and the sentencing has taken place, I know she must be in a very emotional state and I just want her to know that we continue to do everything we can to bring her home.

Griner has been detained in Russia since February 17, when Russian customs officials at an airport near Moscow said they found hash oil in vape cartridges in her luggage. His trial began on July 1 and the sentencing was widely expected. The US State Department said Griner was wrongfully detained and was working to negotiate her release.

Griner’s family has asked for help from Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico governor who is working to secure Griner’s release and Paul Whelan, a former Marine detained in Russia since 2018.

“Today’s sentencing of Brittney Griner was severe by Russian legal standards and will prove what we have known all along, that Brittney is being used as a political pawn,” Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said. , on Twitter. “We appreciate and continue to support the efforts of @POTUS and @SecBlinken to quickly reach an agreement to bring Brittney, Paul and all Americans home.”

Moments after the verdict, A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces tweeted “Free BG! with an orange heart emoji. Connecticut Sun’s Dijonai Carrington tweeted “Praying so hard for BG.”

The Phoenix Mercury released a statement calling Griner’s situation a nightmare.

“While we knew it was never the legal process that would bring our friend home, today’s verdict is a sobering step in the 168-day nightmare endured by our sister, BG,” says Mercury’s statement.

The WNBA Players Union released a statement on Twitter of its executive director, Terri Carmichael Jackson, who called the verdict “unfair” and urged U.S. officials to do everything possible to bring Griner home.

“Given his record on and off the pitch, BG deserves to come home,” the statement read.

He then called on the global sports community to stand with Griner.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert released a joint statement saying, “The WNBA’s and NBA’s commitment to his safe return has not wavered, and we hope we are close to the end of this process to finally bring BG home. United States.”

Some NBA players also weighed in.

“Hmm 9 years…. Free BG,” Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo said on Twitter.

Nets star Kyrie Irving tweeted: “What is really going on with our queen @brittneygriner @POTUS @VP? Please give us an update.

Representative Colin Allred, Democrat of Texas, has been working since March to secure Griner’s release.

“People need to remember this sentencing is part of a show trial and Brittney was wrongfully detained,” Allred said on Twitter. “It’s just another cynical way for Russia to try to gain leverage.”

Debbie Jackson, Griner’s high school basketball coach, held back tears after learning of Griner’s verdict. Jackson recruited Griner, then a volleyball player, to play basketball at Nimitz High School in Houston, setting her on the path to stardom on the court.

“It makes me sick that this is the decision,” Jackson said. “I was trying to be optimistic, even fully aware that when you’re dealing with Russia, things don’t turn out the way you hoped.” She said she hoped Griner “could keep hope that our State Department will work on a prison swap for her and other Americans who are in prison there.”

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