A Russian court sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison Thursday, which was 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.
Before a Russian court sentenced Griner to nine years in prison, she apologized for having cannabis oil in her luggage back in February.
“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that, that is far from this courtroom.”
Just as she has many supporters on her side, she also has detractors who constantly repeat that she broke the law and should do the time.
On Friday, Jemele Hill went on Twitter to call out people who share that sentiment.
“Fascinating and oh so telling where this ‘rules are rules’ energy is coming from with Brittney Griner,” Hill tweeted.
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).
Griner reacted to the sentence with little emotion, listening to the verdict with a blank stare on her face. Her nine-year sentence was close to the maximum of 10 years that Griner had faced under the charges.