we clarify in six acts how the conviction of the American basketball star has grow to be a diplomatic matter for america

A basketball participant in cœur of a Russian-American prisoner trade. The American Brittney Griner, 2.06 meters, star of the WNBA, the North American girls’s basketball league, was sentenced Thursday 4 August to 9 years in jail by a Russian court docket for drug possession and trafficking.

Arrested in Moscow in February for possession of hashish, she finds herself at present, regardless of herself, plunged right into a geopolitical disaster between Washington and Moscow, within the midst of a battle in Ukraine. Franceinfo summarizes the historical past of this sport in six acts, which has grow to be a diplomatic concern for america.

1On February 17, Brittney Griner is arrested in Moscow

The 31-year-old athlete, thought-about among the finest basketball gamers on this planet, was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport with cannabis-based vaping liquid, days earlier than the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

The hand baggage inspection introduced by Brittney Griner, who arrived on a flight from New York, then means that you can “affirm the presence of vapers (and) a liquid with a peculiar scentspecifies the Federal Customs Service of Russia in a press launch.

The Phoenix Mercury star had come to Russia to play throughout America’s low season, a standard follow for WNBA basketball gamers, who typically earn a greater dwelling overseas than in america.

2On March 5, the arrest of the basketball star is revealed to most people

Fifteen days after Brittney Griner’s arrest, it’s publicly revealed. In the meantime, Russian forces have invaded Ukraine and information of her arrest is met with what seems to be deliberate silence. Her Phoenix Mercury membership merely reacts, in a really brief press launch, to be “knowledgeable” the participant’s scenario. His spouse, Cherelle Griner, calls “respect [leur] non-public life” whereas she “work to herald [s]a certain spouse “.

Identical technique in Washington, the place it’s feared that the participant may grow to be an instrument of strain within the Ukrainian battle. “For detained People, we usually do not give particulars as a result of it does not advance issues to convey them residence.”feedback a White Home spokesperson, Jen Psaki, to justify this silence.

3On July 19, Joe Biden adopts further sanctions to launch American detainees

Confronted with the media protection of the case, thePresident Joe Biden is main the way in which in sanctions towards governments that unfairly imprison People and is ordering extra detailed journey advisories.

NBA famous person LeBron James had heard a number of days earlier that American authorities weren’t making sufficient efforts to repatriate Brittney Griner. “How can she really feel supported by america?”requested the participant, a four-time NBA champion and four-time greatest participant within the league, on his YouTube present “The Store: Uninterrupted”. “In your case, I would say, ‘Would I additionally need to return to America?'”


Joe Biden then indicators an govt order authorizing authorities companies to impose monetary sanctions or journey bans on overseas officers or non-state actors concerned within the unjust detentions of People.

4On August 4, Brittney Griner is sentenced to 9 years in jail in Russia

Throughout her trial in late July, Brittney Griner claimed that she inadvertently introduced medical hashish to Russia however by no means meant to smuggle medicine. In line with her, hashish was prescribed to her by a physician. “I did not have the concept, nor did I intend to introduce banned substances in Russia”then declares the double Olympic champion, from the cage reserved for the accused, in line with an AFP journalist on the spot.

US basketball player Brittney Griner before a court hearing in her trial at Khimki courthouse near Moscow, Russia, July 27, 2022. (ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO / POOL / AFP)

He explains that he has used medicinal hashish legally in america, by prescription and solely on his days off, out of competitors, to alleviate a number of “pains” linked to his intensive basketball follow. “It is all of the accidents I’ve had throughout this lengthy basketball stint. From my again to cartilage. And I have been in a wheelchair for 4 months, I had sprained my ankle.”explains.

The Russian prosecutor’s workplace requests 9 and a half jail sentences towards the feminine basketball star, asking the court docket to do it “do not finish your life”. She states: “I made an sincere mistake and I hope the judgment does not finish my life right here.”

On the finish of the trial, the court docket in Khimki, close to Moscow, lastly finds the star of the US nationwide crew responsible of drug possession and trafficking and sentencing “to 9 years of detention in a penal colony“, in line with the statements of decide Anna Sotnikova, reported by the AFP.

5On August 4, america denounces “abusive detention”

This heavy condemnation arouses a wave of indignation, particularly on this planet of sport. Following the sentence, theThe worldwide basketball star’s attorneys instantly announce that he’ll enchantment his conviction.

“That is unacceptable and I ask Russia to launch her instantly in order that she might be reunited along with her spouse, family members and teammates.urges US President Joe Biden in a press release (in English) after announcement of the judgment.

White Home spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre additionally denounced it “unfair detention of the double Olympic champion. At present’s verdict reminds us of what the world already knew: Russia unfairly holds Brittney. She ought to by no means have been tried. ” she complains. The conservative Ted Cruz, senator from Texas, additionally speaks on the facet of the Republican Social gathering arbitrary detention.

On the sporting facet, the North American Girls’s Basketball League (WNBA) deplores a condemnation “unjustified and unlucky. The decision … was predictable and Brittney stays unfairly detained. “regrets the occasion in a joint assertion with the NBA.

6On August 5, Russia says it’s “prepared” to debate an trade of prisoners

The day after the basketball participant was sentenced, Russia mentioned Friday it was “prepared” to debate a prisoner trade with america. The US administration had been arguing for a number of days that it had introduced a proposal to the Kremlin to acquire the participant’s launch, however Russian diplomacy reiterated that an trade may solely be talked about as soon as the sentence was dropped.

“We’re prepared to debate this matter, however solely throughout the channel [diplomatique] agreed by presidents Putin and Biden “Russian diplomacy chief Sergei Lavrov assured Friday throughout a visit to Cambodia. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned Friday that america would do it “to proceed” to debate a prisoner trade involving the basketball participant with Russia.

Washington mentioned in late July it had made a suggestion “consequence” et “severe” to safe the return of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year jail sentence in Russia for “espionage”. In line with the American media, such because the New York Occasions (in English), the trade in query would contain the basketball participant and Paul Whelan towards Viktor Bout, nicknamed the “service provider of loss of life”a Russian arms supplier serving 25 years in jail in america.

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