04.08.2022, Russland, Moskau: Brittney Griner (r), WNBA-Star und zweifache olympische Goldmedaillengewinnerin, betritt einen Käfig in einem Gerichtssaal vor einer Anhörung in Khimki. Die Schlussplädoyers im Fall von Brittney Griner wegen Cannabisbesitzes sind für den 04.08.2022 angesetzt, fast sechs Monate nachdem der amerikanische Basketballstar auf einem Moskauer Flughafen in einem Fall verhaftet wurde, der die höchsten Ebenen der amerikanisch-russischen Diplomatie erreichte. Foto: Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Reuters/AP/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

A Russian court has found US basketball player Brittney Griner guilty of drug smuggling. The court said on Thursday in Chimki near Moscow that you committed the crime knowingly. The sentence was initially not available.

The public prosecutor had demanded nine and a half years in prison, the defense demanded an acquittal. She assumes that a prisoner swap between Russia and the USA could follow the court ruling.

“All in all, I ask that Griner be sentenced to nine years and six months in prison and a fine of one million rubles (16,500 euros),” the prosecutor said before the verdict was pronounced in court, according to the Interfax agency.

The requirement is just under the maximum sentence of ten years. The defense wants an acquittal for their client.

Griner has been in custody for five and a half months. The athlete is said to have had so-called vape cartridges and hashish oil with her when her luggage was checked in Sheremetyevo in February. It is said to have been 0.5 grams. Griner has pleaded guilty.

The process has long had a political component: Washington accuses Moscow of a politically motivated process. US President Joe Biden pledged help to Brittney Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner in a telephone call in early July.

A phone call between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov also discussed the possibility of a prisoner exchange, with the help of which the athlete should be released.

Since 2015, Griner has played for the UMMC Yekaterinburg team in the Urals. She won the Euroleague four times with the top club. Griner is considered one of the best basketball players in the American women’s professional league WNBA.

With the Phoenix Mercury she won the championship in 2014, with the US national team she won two gold medals at the World Championships in addition to two Olympic victories.