US President Joe Biden on Thursday, August 4, called “unacceptable” the conviction of American basketball player Brittney Griner, sentenced in Russia for nine years for drug smuggling.

“Today, US citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence, which is another reminder of what the world already knew: Russia Wrongfully Detaining Brittney. This is 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 posted on White House website.

The president added that his administration “will continue to work tirelessly and use every possible avenue to get Brittney back as soon as possible and Paul Whelan home safe and sound.”

Deputy head of the US mission in the Russian Federation Elizabeth Rood said after the announcement of the verdict Greiner that this is a “mistake of justice.” Greiner was also supported by the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) teams Connecticut Sun and Phoenix Mercury. Before the start of the regular season meeting on Thursday evening, the basketball players held a moment of silence, clasping their hands with each other.

The court sentenced Greiner to nine years in prison

On August 4, the Khimki City Court of the Moscow Region sentenced Brittney Greiner to nine years in a penal colony and a fine of one million rubles, finding her guilty of drug smuggling and possession. Lawyers for the basketball player said they would appeal.

Greiner detained in February 2022 at Sheremetyevo. The investigation claims that during the search, vape cartridges with hash oil were found in her luggage. The athlete admitted this, but stated that she was not going to bring the prohibited substance into Russia intentionally. She says that she packed things in a state of stress and did not remember that she put the cartridges in her bag. Greiner also emphasized that she uses drugs exclusively for personal use.

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