The North American professional basketball leagues WNBA and NBA have sharply criticized the Russian verdict against US star Brittney Griner.
The nine-year prison sentence imposed by a court in Khimki near Moscow for drug smuggling was “unfair and regrettable,” the two leagues said in a joint statement. The verdict was “foreseeable”, but the 31-year-old remains “wrongly” imprisoned, it said.
According to this, the WNBA and NBA want to “undiminishly work for a safe return” for the American to the USA. There is hope for an end soon.
Griner’s WNBA team Phoenix Mercury spoke of a “sobering milestone” within the “nightmare” for their own player. “We know that the process that was supposed to bring our friend home was never lawful,” the club wrote.
One is “heartbroken”, at the same time there is great trust in the officials “who work every day to bring her back to her family and us”.
US President Joe Biden also called Thursday’s decision “unacceptable” in an initial reaction. The star player’s legal team announced immediately after the verdict that they would appeal, but the chances of a significant reduction in the prison sentence are likely to be slim.
Two-time Olympic champion Griner was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, after security forces found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. At the beginning of the trial, she pleaded guilty.