Brittney Griner to Learn Her Fate Within Hours

Russian prosecutors request 9.5-year sentence for WNBA star
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2022 8:40 AM CDT
Brittney Griner to Learn Her Fate Within Hours
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner stands in a cage in a courtroom prior to a hearing in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.   (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – Brittney Griner is expected to learn her fate in her drug smuggling case within hours, and Russian prosecutors have made clear they want it to be a harsh one. Prosecutors on Thursday asked a judge to sentence Griner to 9.5 years in prison, just shy of the 10-year maximum, and to impose a $16,590 fine, reports the Washington Post. They said the case against the 31-year-old Texan, who pleaded guilty to drug smuggling after she was caught bringing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil into the country, was "fully proven," per the Guardian.

Prosecutors described the 0.702 grams of cannabis as a "significant amount," per the Post. But defense lawyers disputed that and claimed there were defects in the machines used to test the substance in the cartridges, per CNN. In closing arguments, lawyer Maria Blagovolina called for an acquittal, saying Griner only used marijuana for medical reasons at home in Arizona, where the drug is legal. Griner previously testified that she didn't know the items were in her luggage. Urged to intervene, the Biden administration is pushing Russia to accept a deal that would see Griner freed alongside Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year prison term in Russia following a 2020 spying conviction.

The US has reportedly offered up imprisoned Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for the pair, though the government has not confirmed that. Bloomberg reports Moscow might also be seeking the release of Vladislav Klyushin, a businessman with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who's held in the US on accusations tied to an $82 million insider trading scheme. "We've made a serious proposal, made a serious offer," John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, said Tuesday, per the Post. "And we urge the Russians to take that offer because it was done with sincerity, and we know we can back it up." (Read more Brittney Griner stories.)

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