PHOENIX MERCURY

Support pours in after Brittney Griner’s sentencing

Aug 4, 2022, 1:37 PM
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner looks through bars as she listens to t...

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner looks through bars as she listens to the verdict standing in a cage in a courtroom in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. A judge in Russia has convicted American basketball star Brittney Griner of drug possession and smuggling and sentenced her to nine years in prison. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP)

(Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP)

The nine-year prison sentence given to Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner on Thursday marked another important point in her detainment — one the United States has classified as “wrongful” — that has stretched into its seventh month.

On the surface, it is not surprising as Russian prosecutors were seeking a maximum sentence of nearly 10 years for Griner, who has admitted to accidentally packing and carrying cannabis oil through an airport. A complicated diplomatic process will continue now that her sentence has been read.

United States government officials, including President Joe Biden, as well as organizations in the WNBA and individual players spoke out in support when Griner’s trial result went public on Thursday.

Below is a collection of those reactions:

— A statement from President Joe Biden: “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. It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.” — President Joe Biden said.

— A statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “The wrongful detainment and unjust sentencing of Brittney Griner are brazen and unacceptable violations of the rule of law by Putin. Russia must release her immediately.”

— The Mercury: “While we knew it was never the legal process that was going to bring our friend home, today’s verdict is a sobering milestone in the 168-day nightmare being endured by our sister, BG. We remain heartbroken for her, as we have every day for nearly six months. We remain grateful to and confident in the public servants working every day to return her to her family and us.

“We remain faithful the Administration will do what it takes to end her wrongful detention. We are inspired every day by BG’s strength and we are steadfastly committed to keeping her top-of-mind publicly until she is safely back on American soil. We will not allow her to be forgotten. We are BG.”

Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, via Twitter: “Today’s sentencing of Brittney Griner was severe by Russian legal standards and goes to prove what we have known all along, that Brittney is being used as a political pawn. We appreciate and continue to support the efforts of @POTUS and @SecBlinken to get a deal done swiftly to bring Brittney, Paul (Whelan) and all Americans home.

“Bringing Brittney and Paul home is the sole objective, and as such, we should use all available tools. We must remain focused and unified.This is a time for compassion and a shared understanding that getting a deal done to bring Americans home will be hard, but it is urgent and it is the right thing to do. #WeAreBG”

— WNBA Players Association said in a statement.“Today’s verdict and sentence, while inevitable, is disappointing. The unjust decision today is what it is, unjust. It is a terrible blow. Whatever conversations Secretary Blinken and his Russian counterpart need to have, we trust that they are having them with all deliberate speed. Because it’s time. It’s just time.”

— WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert: “Today’s verdict and sentencing is unjustified and unfortunate, but not unexpected and Brittney Griner remains wrongly detained. The WNBA and NBA’s commitment to her safe return has not wavered and it is our hope that we are near the end of this process of finally bringing BG home to the United States.”

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