After four months detainment in Russia, WNBA star Britney Giriner was found guilty of attempting to smuggle illegal drugs into the country on Thursday. Griner was then sentenced to nine years in prison by the Russian court.

Since her arrest in mid-February many have speculated what Griner’s punishment would be and if she would be returned to the U.S. in a timely manner.

As of last week, the two countries have been discussing a prisoner swap that involves Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan and Griner.

According to reports, Moscow is leaning towards rejecting the swap unless they get two Russians in return. Officials in Moscow said previously that a verdict in the trial was necessary for a possible exchange. Now that sentence has been handed down it remains to be seen what lies in store for Griner.

Griner’s defense team had been calling on the judge to be more lenient on the sentence, noting that the star did not know she was breaking the law when she brought hashish oil into the country.

They also highlighted Griner’s contributions to the development of Russian basketball and her personality. That same personality was evident in Griner’s plea, highlighting her core values and the need to “take ownership for [her] responsibilities.”

“That’s why I pleaded guilty to my charges; I understand everything that has been said against me in the charges against me, but I had no intent to break Russian law,” she said. “I want the court to understand that it was an honest mistake that I made while rushing and in stress trying to recover post-Covid and just trying to get back to my team.”

“I grew up in a normal house, a normal household in Houston, Texas, with my siblings and my mom and my dad,” Griner told the court. “My parents taught me two important things: One, take ownership for your responsibilities and two, work hard for everything that you get. That’s why I pleaded guilty to my charges.”

The news of Griner’s sentence will no doubt heighten pressure on the Biden Administration to complete a successful prisoner swap.

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