A Russian court sentences Greiner to 9 years in prison, and Biden denounces |  DW |  04.08.2022

A Russian court sentences Greiner to 9 years in prison, and Biden denounces | DW | 04.08.2022

A Russian court on Thursday (August 4, 2022) sentenced American basketball star Britney Greiner to nine years in prison in a drug case after she was convicted of drug possession and smuggling after she brought cannabis-filled cartridges to Russia.

In its ruling, the court said Greiner committed the crime “intentionally”. Greiner will spend “a total of nine years” in a Russian “prison complex,” Judge Anna Sotnikova announced in court.

The judge added that the 31-year-old would have to pay a fine of 1 million rubles ($16,590).

The Russian prosecutor had asked the court to impose a prison sentence of nine and a half years on Greiner, who said in her closing arguments that her bringing the cartridges to Russia was a “good faith mistake.”

American basketball player Britney Greiner

US President Joe Biden condemned the ruling, saying it was “unacceptable”. “Russia is unfairly detaining Britney (Grainer). This is unacceptable and I call on Russia to release her immediately so that she can join her partner, loved ones, friends and teammates,” Biden said.

Biden confirmed his intention to “work tirelessly” to bring back Greiner and Paul Whelan, an American also detained in Russia, in a statement issued minutes after the verdict was announced.

Moscow had announced a week ago that negotiations with the United States on the prisoner exchange are still ongoing, but there is no agreement to exchange Britney Greiner with imprisoned Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

This comes in response to statements by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that Washington made a “serious offer” to Moscow to secure the release of Greiner, as well as Paul Whelan, a former US Marine, who is also detained in Russia.

Greiner was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February with electronic cigarette cartridges containing cannabis oil, while Whelan was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison in Russia after being convicted of espionage.

A.A./A.H (DPA, AFP, Reuters)

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