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Former Russian deputy education minister remanded on embezzlement charges

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A Russian court has found US basketball player Britney Griner guilty of drug smuggling and sentenced her to nine years in prison. The punishment sparked outrage among teammates and athletes around the world and was called “unacceptable” by US President Joe Biden.

A handcuffed Griner was removed from a courtroom in the Moscow suburb of Khimki on August 4 after Judge Anna Sotnikova handed down a sentence that included a fine of one million rubles ($16,300). Griner said she has 10 days to appeal, and her attorney said she will.

A remorseful Greiner took responsibility for what she called an “honest mistake” in her closing statement, and even though she stuffed her bag with e-cigarette cartridges containing cannabis oil, prosecutors did not allow her to go to court. sentenced her to nine and a half years in prison. The maximum sentence allowed by Russian law is 10 years for her.

In his final statement, Griner offered an emotional apology to his family, teammates and the city of Yekaterinburg, Russia, where he will play in the WNBA offseason, “for his mistakes and the embarrassment he caused them.”

With a trembling voice, she added:

“I love my family,” the 31-year-old quietly told reporters as they were whisked away.

Cannabis is illegal in Russia for both medical and recreational purposes.

Greiner, an eight-time All-Star recognized as one of the greatest players in WNBA history, had cannabis oil in his luggage on Feb. 17 when police landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. He was detained after he said he found an e-cigarette cartridge containing She is back in Russia where she has been competing since 2014.

Her detention was made public as relations between Russia and the United States reached new lows after Washington led the West in imposing sanctions on Moscow after Russian troops moved to Ukraine.

In a rare move, US President Joe Biden statement Minutes after the verdict was announced, he said the case was “another reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is unlawfully detaining Britney.”

“It is unacceptable. I urge Russia to release her immediately so that she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates,” the statement said.

Outside of court, Griner’s attorneys have pledged to appeal to the court, adding that some of the lawsuit files were drafted in violation of the law.

“The court completely ignored the defense’s allegations and the defendant’s admission of guilt. Taking all of this into consideration, we believe that the prison term assigned by the court is wholly unjustified. We intend to appeal.”

The incident comes amid the most strained U.S.-Russian relations since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and Biden said he wanted to help Americans detained in Russia, including Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. pressure to intervene in The US government considers the two to be “wrongfully detained.”

“My administration will continue to work vigorously and will do everything in its power to bring Britney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible,” Biden said.

After being detained en route to her Russian team UMMC Yekaterinburg, after a brief trip to the United States, Griner pleaded guilty to charges of possessing cannabis oil cartridges and accidentally stuffed them while in a hurry. The airport of the plane to Russia.

Griner’s WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury, was scheduled to play in the second half of August 4th.league is league Joint statement The men’s NBA manager said the ruling was “unjust and disappointing.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone on July 29 to discuss a potential prisoner exchange involving Griner and Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

The call marked the highest level of contact known to have occurred between Washington and Moscow since Russia sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.

A conviction is usually a prerequisite to arranging a prisoner exchange, and Griner can also apply for a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As reported by CNN and Reuters