WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to 9 years in a Russian prison after being convicted on drug charges by a Moscow court. In a final plea for leniency, an emotional Griner apologized and repeated that she never intended to break any Russian laws but that she had made “an honest mistake.”
Griner, 31, will also have to pay a fine of 1 million rubles ($16,590), but can appeal the verdict.
U.S. Marine veteran Trevor Reed, who was released in April from Russian detention, is now giving us a detailed version of what Griner is dealing with after her sentence.
In a CBS Mornings interview Tuesday, Reed described his experience in Russian custody as “really bad.”
“The cells there are extremely dirty,” Reed said. “Food there is really bad. A lot of times the food there is rotten. You may receive a broth that has a fish bone in it.”
In 2020, Reed was charged in Russia for committing violence against Russian officers, stemming from a drunken night out in Moscow. After serving three years of a nine-year sentence in Russian detention, Reed was released in exchange for Russian national Konstantin Yaroshenko, whom the U.S. had arrested on drug smuggling charges.
Reed says he has since regained the weight he lost while serving his sentence and that he’s feeling “really good” both physically and psychologically.
He advises Griner and Whelan to “hang in there.”
“Just know that people are fighting for you and just know that you have a lot of people supporting you back here at home and that the highest levels of the U.S. government are attempting to get you out, so keep the faith,” he said.
The WNBA star has appealed the ruling, a process Reed said entailed “a lot of waiting.”
“You may be requesting expertise or trying to find new evidence in order to appeal the ruling of the previous court during that time and that appeal could take years basically,” Reed recalled. “In the end, all of the appeals are fake. They’re as fake as the first trial you receive. All courts in Russia are fake.”
The relationship between prisoners and prison officials in Russia, he said, are “not good.” “They don’t like Americans,” he said.
Hopefully, Griner can continue to stay strong until the Biden Administration can pull off a prison swap.