Why WNBA star Brittney Griner is jailed in Russia

Why WNBA star Brittney Griner is jailed in Russia

Brittney Griner, a WNBA star, has been sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison in a sentence US President Joe Biden has deemed unacceptable after police said they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage at the airport in February.

The nine-year sentence was close to the maximum of 10 years Ms Griner had faced under the charges.

Who is Brittney Griner and will she be locked up in Russia for nine years?

Ms Griner plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the Women's National Basketball Association and is considered one of the best players in the league.

Griner had travelled to Russia to play in the Russian Premier League during the off-season when she was accused of having the vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

Her detention was first announced by Russia on March 6 and her trial began on July 1, when she pleaded guilty to the charges.

She was convicted in Russia of drug possession and smuggling and sentenced to nine years behind bars.

Where is she being held?

During her trial, Ms Griner was held at Correctional Colony No. According to the New York Times, IK-1 is just outside Moscow.

It's described as a grey, artificially lit facility.

Ms Griner will be moved to a general regime penal colony after she has been convicted, Judge Anna Sotnikova ordered.

America's WNBA community has shown solidarity with Ms Griner on Twitter.

Phoenix Mercury described the verdict as a sobering moment in the case, stating that the club remains heartbroken for her Before their game today, the Conneticut Sun and Phoenix Mercury gathered in the centre of the court for a moment of silence in Ms Griner's honour.

The US is pushing for Moscow to accept a deal that would see Ms Griner, along with former US Marine Paul Whelan, exchanged with Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout in a prisoner swap.

We encourage them to accept it. The White House national security spokesman John Kirby said they should have accepted it weeks ago when we first made it.

According to a source familiar with the proceedings, Moscow has only told the United States to pursue quiet diplomacy, without release of speculative information. Russians have tried to add convicted murderer Vadim Krasikov, who is in prison in Germany, to the proposed swap.

When asked on Thursday if Washington would be willing to reconsider Russia's request, Mr Kirby dismissed it: "I don't think we go so far as to even call it a counter-offer." Biden is receiving regular updates on negotiations for the release of Ms Griner, Mr Whelan and others who are wrongfully imprisoned, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Mr Biden said his administration would continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.