Aug 4, 2022
WNBA star Brittney Griner sentenced to 9 years by Russian judge Transcript
A Russian court has sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison on drug possession charges. Read the transcript here.
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Shern-Min Chow: (00:00)
Good afternoon. I’m Shern-Min Chow. We begin with breaking news, Houston native Brittney Griner has just been sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison. The judge found the WNBA star guilty of possessing and smuggling narcotics. Tina Kraus has more on what happened in the Russian courtroom.
Tina Kraus: (00:19)
From a cage in the back of the Russian courtroom, Brittney Griner listened as a translator passed along the verdict. The judge found the 31 year old basketball star guilty of deliberately bringing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil with her when she flew to Moscow in February. Before the verdict Griner offered an apology to the court.
Brittney Griner: (00:40)
I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here.
Tina Kraus: (00:47)
Griner’s lawyers had argued the Phoenix Mercury center and two time Olympic gold medalist inadvertently packed the cannabis canisters. They presented character witnesses from the Russian team she plays for in the WNBA off-season and written testimony from a doctor who prescribed her cannabis for pain treatment. Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona.
Brittney Griner: (01:08)
I never meant to hurt anybody. I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population. I never meant to break any laws here.
Tina Kraus: (01:16)
The verdict comes as US and Russian officials are negotiating a prisoner swap. Last week US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov urging him to exchange grinder and former Marine Paul Whelan for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the merchant of death.
Speaker 4: (01:35)
We had a Frank and direct conversation. I pressed the Kremlin to accept the substantial proposal that we put forth on the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner.
Tina Kraus: (01:47)
Russia offered a counter-proposal asking for the release of a Russian assassin held by another country. The White House is calling it a, quote, bad faith attempt to avoid the US deal that’s on the table. Tina Kraus, CBS News, London.
Shern-Min Chow: (02:03)
President Biden reacting to the sentencing calling it a reminder that Russia is wrongfully detaining Griner, calling it, quote, unacceptable. He called on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her loved ones. He added, my administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who has been championing Griner’s return also reacted.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee: (02:32)
I want the community to pray for her family and pray for her. But right now, as the President has indicated in his statement we have to be eagle eyed, we have to be focused to a needle point to be able to emphasize that she has to come home along with Paul Whelan.
Shern-Min Chow: (02:49)
As more reaction comes into the Griner verdict and for any developments with Russia, download the KHOU11 App, you can sign up to get breaking news alerts sent straight to your phone. It’s free in the Google Play and Apple stores.