Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony and fined 1 million rubles, which is approximately $16,500, on Thursday.
The decision comes months after 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 was eligible for 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.
Ahead of the Mercury’s game vs. the Sun on Thursday night, Griner’s team held a 42-second moment of silence, which represents the her jersey number.
Coach Vanessa Nygaard met with media ahead of Thursday’s game and expressed that it’s been a tough day for the team. She admitted that the team was watching the verdict while they were preparing to go to their shootaround.
“It was really tough to see BG today, really emotional day for our whole team,” Nygaard said. “But we know we weren’t hanging our hopes on the Russian justice system. We know that the Biden administration and all our government officials are going to work hard to bring her home and that’s the path she’s going to come home. We’re confident, though it’s hard to hear this news today, we know she’s wrongfully imprisoned, and she’s been declared by our government. We know she’ll be returning home with their hard work.”
The team met with the U.S. State Department in June to remain updated on what the government is doing to try and bring Griner back to the United States. Last month, the team organized a rally for family, teammates and fans, advocating for her release.
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