WNBA star Brittney Griner has been sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison for smuggling drugs into the country. The 6’8″ basketball player was caught at an airport in Russia with less than one gram of cannabis oil and vape cartridges. This amount was enough to get her detained and charged with trafficking drugs. Russia is notorious for a very high conviction rate so this outcome is no surprise. Griner’s offense was enough to warrant a ten-year sentence. Russian authorities took her guilty plea and remorse into consideration when determining an exact sentence.
This case has become very political due to a variety of factors. The first issue here is that former President Trump was able to get high-profile people free from foreign prisons during his term in office. Former UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball was arrested in China for shoplifting alongside other UCLA teammates. Trump made a few calls and before long, Ball was home. Rapper ASAP Rocky was arrested and locked up in Sweden for fighting. Trump made a few more calls and before long… ASAP Rocky was home. Some people thought that Joe Biden would do the same thing with Brittney Griner that Trump was able to do with other celebrities. That did not happen.
Pressure began to mount on the Biden administration to do something to release Griner from Russian custody. The idea of a decade-long sentence for the hoop star was slowly becoming a reality. In the zero-hour, the White House suggested a prisoner swap to get Griner home. The United States would offer a convicted Russian arms dealer by the name of Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner and another American detained in Russia named Paul Whelan. Viktor Bout is the equivalent to a terrorist, supplying third-world nations with arms to fight brutal wars.
Paul Whelan was sentenced to a sixteen-year bid in Russia for spying. He does not have a squeaky clean record in the states as he was discharged from the US Marine Corps under bad circumstances. Most experts say this is a bad deal from top to bottom. A terrorist for a basketball player doesn’t really jive too well inside certain political circles. However, midterm elections are coming up and this may simply be a way to purchase favor from certain communities so they can vote the “proper” way.
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