WNBA Player Brittney Griner Released from Russian Detention in Prisoner Swap

Fecha de publicación: 08/12/2022
Fuente: Hempgrower
Editor's note: This story was updated at 2:15 p.m. ET on Dec. 8 to include a statement from NORML.Russia has freed WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in prison on cannabis possession charges, as part of a prisoner exchange in which the U.S. released Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” President Joe Biden said Dec. 8 in a statement from the White House, according to the Associated Press.The Russian Foreign Ministry also confirmed the exchange, the news outlet reported, saying in a statement Thursday that the swap occurred in Abu-Dhabi and that Bout has been flown home.Bout, a former Soviet Army lieutenant colonel, was serving a 25-year sentence on charges that he conspired to sell tens of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons that U.S. officials said were intended for use against Americans, AP reported.Griner was taken into custody by Russian authorities in February for allegedly carrying cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo International Airport, just north of Moscow.Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg for the past several years during the offseason.RELATED: WNBA Star Brittney Griner ‘Doing as Well as Can Be Expected’ in Russia DetentionAfter a month-long trial, Griner was found guilty on cannabis possession charges in a Russian court and sentenced to 9 years in Russian prison in August.Biden issued a statement following the news of Griner’s sentencing, calling for her immediate release. The Biden administration first offered the prisoner swap involving Bout in late July.RELATED: Brittney Griner Pleads With President Biden: ‘Please Don’t Forget About Me’Griner’s defense team filed an appeal in Russian court in the weeks after her conviction, but the appeal was ultimately denied in October.“Brittney Griner’s imprisonment has been a grotesque affront to the concept of justice, and it has served as an unfortunate reminder of how draconic marijuana laws remain around the globe," NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said in a public statement. "However, it should also cause a serious level of reflection amongst our lawmakers considering that a large number of states still inflict similar penalties for marijuana possession on our own soil, and the current federal policy of marijuana prohibition isn’t notably different than the stance held by Putin’s regime in Russia. Brittney Griner very much deserved to be released and brought home, but our elected officials in the United States must use this as motivation to bring our domestic marijuana policies in line with our nation’s stated principles of liberty and justice.”