Update 08/15/2022 10:11am:
Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison following being convicted for smuggling drugs into Russia. Griner’s lawyer has spoken to CNN and said they are filing an appeal for the WNBA star. News of this comes days after the Russian government confirmed for the first time that there were discussions of a possible prisoner swap for Griner, which also involved a convicted Russian arms dealer.
The United States has maintained that Griner was wrongfully detained. Russian Foreign Ministry’s North American Director Alexander Darchiev spoke on the possible swap to Russian state media TASS this past Saturday.
“This quite sensitive issue of the swap of convicted Russian and US citizens is being discussed through the channels defined by our Presidents. These individuals are, indeed, being discussed. The Russian side has long been seeking the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to professionals, proceeding from the 'do not harm' principle,” said Darchiev. Stay tuned for more updates.
Original 08/04/2022 1:25pm:
WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison Thursday (August 4) at the conclusion of her trial in Russia after bringing cannabis into the country in February. Judge Anna Sotnikova said she had found that Griner intentionally broke the law, and added that her time served would count toward her sentence.
President Joe Biden reacted to the news of Griner's conviction, stating, "Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. It's unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates."
US National Security Council Director for Strategic Communications John Kirby also urged Russia to consider the proposal for a prisoner swap with the Russians. Kirby stated, "We urge the Russians, again, to seriously consider that proposal, to act on it. And let’s get these two Americans home where they belong."