Biden responds to Brittney Griner verdict — RT World News

The US president called the basketball star “wrongfully detained” and demanded that Russia release her “immediately”

Brittney Griner’s beliefs are “Unacceptable” and Russia must free her “right away,” US President Joe Biden said Thursday, after a Moscow court sentenced the Olympic basketball champion to nine years in prison on drug charges. He also describes Griner as “Improperly detained.”

Griner’s sentence is “Another reminder of what the world already knows: Russia is wrongly holding Brittney” Biden said in a statement release of the White House. The US President is in isolation at the White House after his Covid-19 symptoms returned.

“That is unacceptable, and I urge Russia to release her immediately so that she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates,“The statement said, adding that the US government will “Continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible path” brought home both Griner and Paul Whelan, who was convicted by Russia of espionage in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years.

A district court in Khimki found Griner guilty of smuggling illegal drugs and sentenced her to nine years in prison, slightly less than the nine and a half years demanded by prosecutors. The presiding judge also ordered her to pay a fine of one million rubles ($16,200).

Griner was arrested on February 17 when a drug sniffer dog at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport alarmed her about her luggage. In her bag, security agents found a vape container containing cannabis oil, which is banned in Russia.

The eight-time WNBA All-Star player who played for the Phoenix Mercury apologized, saying the cartridges had fallen into her luggage by accident, because she was packing in a hurry. Griner was on her way to Ekaterinburg to play for a basketball team there in the WNBA, as she has been since 2015.

Griner’s attorneys called the verdict “Completely unreasonable” and said they would “sure” appeal it. Court “Completely disregarding all evidence in defense” including Griner’s confession, they added.

Moscow has categorically denied that Griner’s arrest had anything to do with politics, or that the conflict in Ukraine began a week later. Russian authorities have noted that she broke the law and that no exception can be made just because she is a foreigner.

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