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Brittney Griner has been convicted by a Russian court of smuggling drugs with criminal intent, CNN reports. According to ESPN’s T.J. Quinn, she has been sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony and fined 1 million rubles, which is about $16,500.  

The Mercury star was arrested at a Moscow airport in February and accused of having hashish oil in her luggage. She pleaded guilty to the drug charges in July and could have received a penalty of up to 10 years in prison as a result. During sentencing, Russian prosecutors asked for Griner to receive 9 1/2 years in prison.

Griner’s defense attorneys have argued that she used cannabis for medicinal purposes and that she had no intention of breaking the law when she arrived at the airport. They added that they will “certainly” file an appeal for the verdict and are disappointed by the ruling.

“We are very disappointed by the verdict,” they said in a statement, via CNN. “As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality. The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea.”

Before the verdict was announced, Griner confirmed that she wasn't trying to break the law.

“I never meant to hurt anybody. I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population. I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said, per CNN. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom.

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“I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime.”

Amid Griner’s trial, the United States government has been trying to negotiate a deal for a prisoner swap that would bring Griner back to the country. The U.S. included convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in the deal, in exchange for Griner and American Paul Whelan, who is also being held in Russia.

Quinn believes the sentencing is just a formality, as the U.S. could agree to a deal and bring Griner back before her sentence ends. However, that would require the two countries to agree on a deal first.

With the trial over, Quinn believes negotiations should accelerate. Last month, Griner wrote a letter to President Joe Biden asking for his help in returning her home. Biden then spoke with Griner’s wife, Cherelle, as the government agreed that Griner is being wrongfully detained.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

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