SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — American basketball star Brittney Griner was convicted in a Russian court Thursday and sentenced to nine years for drug possession and smuggling. Griner, 31, has been at the center of what the Associated Press calls a “politically charged case,” having been caught coming through a Russian airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.
President Joe Biden denounced the WNBA superstar’s sentence as “unacceptable” and called upon Russia to “release her immediately.” In the Bay Area, local leaders also expressed outrage at the verdict and sentence.
“The wrongful detainment and unjust sentencing of Brittney Griner are brazen and unacceptable violations of the rule of law by Putin,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, in a statement. “Russia must release her immediately.”
“Every day that Brittney Griner remains in detention is a reminder of Putin’s contempt for human rights, human dignity and the law,” added the speaker, who controversially visited Taiwan this week.
“Brittney Griner being sentenced to 9 years in a Russian jail with too little too late intervention by the U.S. government is deplorable,” said Carolyn Wysinger, president of San Francisco Pride’s Board of Directors. “I applaud and thank the powerful Black women who tried to use every bit of clout they had to elevate her cause and bring her case the attention it deserves.”
Griner is Black and identifies as a lesbian.
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“Black lesbian women are often forgotten by the LGBTQ community, forgotten by the Black community, and used as props by the feminist community,” added Wysinger. “It is sad but not shocking to see that the lives of Black lesbian women are not readily protected, and that the political class continues to ignore the threats that jeopardize the safety of our community.”
Griner, who is regarded as one of the greatest players in WNBA history, has been detained since Feb. 17. She was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport while returning to Russia, where she has competed since 2014.
Associated Press contributed to this report.