Joe Biden Calls On Russia To Release Brittney Griner 'Immediately'
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Joe Biden has called on Russia to release Brittney Griner 'immediately' after the WNBA star was jailed for nearly a decade.
Griner said she had no intent to break Russian law by bringing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil with her when she flew to Moscow in February.
However, the court felt differently and found her guilty.
Prosecutors had argued for a nine and a half year sentence, but the judge shaved six months off that request.
The White House is now putting pressure on Moscow to change the sentence and let Griner go free.
"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," President Joe 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."
Now that she has been found guilty and sentenced to jail, it means the US can now properly pursue a prisoner exchange deal.
After months of deliberation, the Biden administration has offered to trade notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout in order to secure the release of Brittney Griner and fellow US citizen, police officer Paul Whelan.
Viktor Bout was a notorious arms dealer during the 1990s and early 2000s and even earned the nickname the 'Merchant of Death' before he was arrested in March 2008.
He is currently serving a 25-year sentence in the United States.
Whelan was arrested in Moscow in December 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in a Russian prison in June 2020, convicted of espionage.
After Griner was found guilty in a Russian court, she pleaded with the judge to go easy on her.
She said: "I made an honest mistake, and I hope in your ruling it does not end my life."
Griner told the court: "I want to apologise to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them.
"I want to also apologise to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organisation back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home."
Judge Anna Sotnikova said the time Griner has served in custody since her arrest in February will count toward the sentence.