The saga of Brittney Griner and her Russian imprisonment took a significant turn today, as her trial in a courtroom near Moscow concluded with her conviction. Griner had been charged with attempting to smuggle marijuana into Russia after her arrest at a Moscow airport in February. The WNBA star had been caught with cannabis oil, which is illegal in Russia, and has spent the past five-plus months in a Russian prison.
The conviction was essentially a foregone conclusion, considering that not even Griner’s own legal team had contented she had not been in possession of the drug, and as we’ve also noted here before, statistically, Russian prosecutors are successful in 99% of their prosecutions. Once Ms. Griner was arrested, she never really had a chance.
According to CBS News:
“U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner was convicted Thursday in Russia of drug possession and sentenced to nine years in prison following a politically charged trial that came amid soaring tensions between Moscow and Washington over Ukraine and could lead to a high-stakes prisoner exchange between the two world powers.
The 31-year-old Griner, a two-time U.S. Olympic champion and a eight-time all-star with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury listened with a blank expression as an interpreter translated the verdict by Judge Anna Sotnikova. The judge also fined 1 million rubles (about $16,000) fine.”
Griner’s plight has been both highly publicized and political. On the left, Griner has been portrayed, per the typical arrangement, as a victim of Russian tyranny. Griner, who is both black and lesbian, had been a vocal, social justice warrior on the left, refusing to even enter sports arenas until after our National Anthem had been played, and trashing our country at every opportunity for imaginary systemic racism, LGBTQ oppression, and various gender inequalities. Since Griner is black, gay, and female, the left apparently feels she should be able to do whatever she wants and wherever she wants to do it.
On the right, conservatives have questioned why Griner should receive special treatment, considering that she clearly broke the laws of a sovereign nation. A common question has been, why shouldn’t she be punished? And another common question from conservatives has been – since she has been so anti-American with her rhetoric and protestations – why should our government go out of its way to help her at all?
"*" indicates required fields
Ultimately, as mentioned, Griner has become little more than a political pawn in a high-stakes game of chess. The Biden Administration has been highly critical of Vladimir Putin’s Russia and his decision to go to war with Ukraine. The U.S. has subsequently engaged in aiding the Ukrainians and applying stiff, economic sanctions on Russia. The relationship between Russia and the U.S. is at its worst point in over thirty years, which is a bad time to get caught smuggling weed into Moscow.
Last week, a deal was offered by the Biden administration for a prisoner exchange for both Griner and fellow imprisoned American Paul Whelan, a former marine accused of espionage. The deal itself was widely criticized due to the swap piece being offered, a Russian arms dealer named Viktor Bout, though all the details of the offer were never confirmed by the administration.
The sentencing of nine years in prison for Griner should not come as a surprise. The maximum sentence per Russian law was ten years, and while Griner’s legal team had pleaded for leniency, that was likely never going to happen. The Russians threw the book at Griner, strengthening her value as a political bargaining chip. And while the legal proceedings for Griner may be complete, there’s likely a long way to go regarding diplomatic efforts on her behalf.
By Jess Lawson
Jess Lawson is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative and a passionate, conservative millennial who loves America.
Enjoy HUGE savings at My Pillow with promo code BSC
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Blue State Conservative. The BSC is not responsible for, and does not verify the accuracy of, any information presented.
Notice: This article may contain commentary that reflects the author’s opinion.