Joe Biden has branded the criminal conviction of Brittney Griner as unacceptable and demanded her immediate release after she was handed a nine-year sentence for smuggling drugs with criminal intent.
Judge Anna Sotnikova said the court took into account Griner‘s partial admission of guilt, remorse for the deed, state of health and charitable activities when handing out the sentence.
Griner was also fined 1 million rubles, whch is about $16,400.
“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,” Biden said in a statement.
“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”
Before the sentence was handed out Griner admitted, what she called an honest mistake.
I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner, 31, said in the Khimki city courthouse.
“I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom.
“I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime.”
Upon receiving the verdict, Griner‘s lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov released a statement confirming they would appeal the sentence.
“We are very disappointed by the verdict,” the statement read. “As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality.
“The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea.
“This contradicts the existing legal practice. Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is absolutely unreasonable. We will certainly file an appeal.”