President Joe Biden issued a statement Thursday condemning the sentence of former Baylor and current WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Griner was found guilty on charges of possession and smuggling of cannabis oil Thursday and sentenced to nine years in prison.
"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," President Biden said.
"My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible."
Sec. of State Antony Blinken released an additional statement in reaction to her sentence.
"Today’s conviction and sentencing by a Russian court of U.S. citizen Brittney Griner to nine years in prison further compounds the injustice of her wrongful detention. This step puts a spotlight on our significant concerns with Russia’s legal system and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda, using individuals as political pawns," said Blinken.
"Nothing about today’s decision changes our determination that Brittney Griner is wrongfully detained, and we will continue working to bring Brittney and fellow wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Paul Whelan home. This is an absolute priority of mine and the Department's. We will also continue to press for fair and transparent treatment for all U.S. citizen detainees in Russia. Russia, and any country engaging in wrongful detention, represents a threat to the safety of everyone traveling, working, and living abroad. The United States opposes this practice everywhere."
Griner has previously told the court she had no intention to break the law when she traveled to Moscow in February with vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage. Griner has received support from her Russian basketball teammates as well as prison inmates and guards.
This story is developing.