The Russian prosecutor’s office on Thursday demanded nine and a half years in prison against American basketball star Brittney Griner, detained in Russia on charges of cannabis trafficking, in full tension between Moscow and Washington.
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“I ask that Griner be found guilty and sentenced to nine and a half years in prison in a classical regime (penal) colony” and a fine of one million rubles (about $21,000), prosecutor Nikolai Vlassenko said, according to an AFP journalist present at the hearing at the Khimki court, near Moscow
This is almost the maximum possible requisition for this crime, set at 10 years in prison.
Arrested in February with cannabis-based vaping liquid when arriving in Moscow, Brittney Griner, 31 years old and 2.06 meters tall, is considered one of the best basketball players in the world.
Double Olympic champion, she pleaded guilty while claiming to have brought this substance to Russia inadvertently and refuting any drug trafficking.
On Thursday, the prosecutor assured her that she had knowingly tried to “hide” this cannabis-based liquid from customs officers at the airport.
In the midst of the conflict in Ukraine, Griner’s trial took on a geopolitical dimension with talks between Moscow and Washington on a possible prisoner exchange of which the player could be a part.
Last week, US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said Washington had made a “substantial offer” to Moscow to secure the release of Griner and another American detained in Russia, Paul Whelan.