“I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city [Yekaterinburg] For my wrongdoing and the embarrassment I caused them,” Griner said in his statement. “I want to apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back home, the amazing women of the WNBA and my amazing partner back home.”
Reacting to her sentencing, President Joe Biden criticized Russia for “wrongfully arresting” Greiner, saying they would “pursue every means possible” to bring her home.
“This is unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates,” Biden said in a statement. “My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every avenue possible to bring Britney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also released a joint statement condemning the ruling.
“Today’s verdict and sentence are unfair and unfortunate, but not unexpected, and Brittney Griner was wrongfully arrested,” he said. “The WNBA and NBA’s commitment to their safe return remains unwavering and we are hopeful that we are nearing the end of this process to finally bring BG home to the United States.
Griner previously testified that she used cannabis oil prescribed by her doctor to treat pain from sports injuries, but had packed her bags in a hurry and did not intend to bring them to Russia, where she was playing in the WNBA offseason. “Since they ended up in my bags by accident, I take responsibility, but I did not plan to smuggle or smuggle. [illegal substances] to Russia,” he testified on July 27.
Griner complained that he was not read his rights when he was first arrested and that he did not receive proper translation services during the investigation.
In a letter to Biden last month, Griner said he was “terrified” that he could be locked up in a Russian prison forever.
“I understand you are dealing with a lot, but please don’t forget about me and the other American detainees,” he said. “Please do your best to bring us home.”
Colas, Griner’s agent, said he appreciated the Biden administration’s efforts to bring the basketball star and Whalen back to the US.
“The only objective is to bring Brittney and Paul home, and we have to use every means available,” Colas said. “We need to stay focused and united. This is a time of compassion and it’s hard to make a deal to bring Americans home, but it’s urgent and it’s the right thing to do.”