A Russian court sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison Thursday, an expected conclusion to her trial that should allow negotiations for a prisoner swap to accelerate.
Griner, who was arrested Feb. 17 for bringing cannabis into the country, had been prepared for a harsh sentence, sources close to the player said. But she and her supporters have also been aware that Russia was not going to move forward with a trade that could bring her home until her trial was completed. A guilty verdict was considered a foregone conclusion, and Griner pleaded guilty July 7, though the case continued under Russian law.
During sentencing, Judge Anna Sotnikova said she had found that Griner intentionally broke the law and also fined her 1 million rubles (about $16,700). Sotnikova said the time Griner has served in custody since her arrest in February would count toward the sentence.