August 8, 2022 · less than 3 min read
The politically charged verdict could see a prisoner swap with the US.
No, not that Britney. US basketball player, Brittney Griner has been handed a nine-year sentence by a Moscow court for…weed. Arrested in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for cannabis possession back in February, Griner could be fined 1m ruble – around $16,600.
It’s a real sticky one for US and Russian relations, mainly due to the timing. The arrest took place just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, leaving the US intelligence services frantically attempting to negotiate a deal. The conviction was always set in stone, but it’s also a necessary step to keep a prisoner exchange on the table. But right now, that doesn’t offer much of a silver lining.
Support from the top
There is no shortage of support for Brittney on the home front. “Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” said President Joe Biden. “It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”
By all accounts, the Russian court has thrown the book at her. Russians arrested in similar cases are often given little more than a suspended sentence on parole. The US has now classified her as ‘wrongfully detained’, in a process similar to hostage negotiations with the likes of Iran. So, while Griner remains exhausted and disappointed, she still has the backing of her homeland. Whether they can work out a deal though, remains to be seen. Russia doesn’t exactly have good form when it comes to compromising.
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