Russian court gives Brittney Griner nine years on drugs charges | Russia-Ukraine war News


The WNBA star was arrested at a Moscow airport in February with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her baggage.

A Russian courtroom has discovered US basketball star Brittney Griner responsible of drug smuggling, and sentenced her to 9 years in jail in a case that has reached the best ranges of United States-Russia diplomacy.

The courtroom “discovered the defendant responsible” of smuggling and possessing “a big quantity of narcotics”, choose Anna Sotnikova instructed a courtroom within the city of Khimki simply outdoors Moscow.

The courtroom additionally fined her a million rubles ($16,300).

US President Joe Biden was fast to sentence the decision, calling it “unacceptable” and renewing his requires the participant’s launch.

“My administration will proceed to work tirelessly and pursue each potential avenue to carry Brittney and Paul Whelan dwelling safely as quickly as potential,” he stated, referring to a different American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction.

Sotnikova had stated on Thursday that Griner dedicated the crime “intentionally”. However Griner had testified through the trial it was a mistake.

Since her arrest, Griner’s relations, teammates and supporters have been calling on the US authorities to place its full weight behind the case to push for her launch.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) star, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on February 17 when she entered the nation with vape canisters containing hashish oil.

She referred to as it an “trustworthy mistake” whereas talking within the courtroom Thursday earlier than sentencing.

“I by no means meant to harm anyone, I by no means meant to place in jeopardy the Russian inhabitants, I by no means meant to interrupt Russian legislation,” Griner stated  by way of a translator whereas standing within the steel cage reserved for defendants in Russian courtrooms.

She apologised to her household, teammates, and her partner.

Her detention got here one week earlier than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid a spike of tensions between Moscow and Washington.

Griner had pleaded guilty when her trial started in July, and stated then she didn’t carry the canisters into Russia deliberately. Hashish is unlawful in Russia for each medicinal and leisure functions.

Consideration will now flip to the high-stakes risk of a prisoner swap.

In July, the US Division of State designated Griner as “wrongfully detained”, transferring her case underneath the supervision of its particular presidential envoy for hostage affairs, successfully the federal government’s chief hostage negotiator.

Final week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, urging him to accept a deal underneath which Griner and Whelan would go free.

The Lavrov-Blinken name marked the highest-level identified contact between Washington and Moscow since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine greater than 5 months in the past. The direct outreach over Griner is at odds with US efforts to isolate the Kremlin.

“I do know everyone retains speaking about political pawn and politics, however I hope that’s removed from this courtroom,” Griner stated on Thursday earlier than the choose’s ruling.

Griner, 31, had flown to Russia to hitch her group, UMMC Ekaterinburg, for the playoffs after spending time at dwelling within the US. She has performed within the Russian Ladies’s Basketball Premier League through the WNBA low season.

In her testimony final week, Griner expressed puzzlement as to how the vape cartridges had ended up in her baggage.

“I nonetheless don’t perceive to today how they ended up in my bag,” she instructed the courtroom on July 27. “If I needed to guess on how they ended up in my luggage, I used to be in a rush packing.”

Otoniel shipped ‘outrageous’ amounts of cocaine to US: Prosecutor | Drugs News

The accused Colombian drug trafficker is predicted to make his first US courtroom look after being extradited from Bogota.

One in every of Colombia’s most infamous drug traffickers shipped “outrageous portions of cocaine” into the USA, a high US prosecutor has mentioned, hours after Dairo Antonio Usuga was extradited to face prices in New York.

Usuga, higher often called Otoniel, is predicted to be arraigned in US federal courtroom in Brooklyn on Thursday on three prices, together with conspiring to fabricate and distribute cocaine, mentioned Breon Peace, the US lawyer for the Japanese District of New York.

Otoniel is “one of the crucial harmful, most wished drug kingpins on the planet” who as soon as had as many as 6,000 “henchmen” below his command, Peace advised reporters.

“He earned huge income, measured in billions, not hundreds of thousands,” Peace mentioned. “As we speak he’ll lastly face justice.”

A lawyer for Otoniel declined to remark to the Reuters information company.

Colombian authorities captured Otoniel in October final yr after an enormous army operation.

President Ivan Duque mentioned on the time that his arrest marked “the largest blow in opposition to drug trafficking in our nation this century”, solely corresponding to the autumn of notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Duque additionally welcomed Otoniel’s extradition to the US as a second of triumph for “legality, the rule of legislation, the safety forces and justice”.

On Wednesday afternoon, a convoy of 5 bulletproof police automobiles transported Otoniel from a jail within the capital, Bogota, to a army airport, the place he was handed over to US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officers.

The Gulf Clan operates in 12 of Colombia’s 32 provinces, and counts some 3,800 members, in line with data supplied by the nation’s nationwide police.

Additionally it is concerned with unlawful mining, and the federal government accuses the group of threatening and killing group leaders throughout the nation.

Otoniel has lengthy been a fixture on the DEA’s most-wanted record.

He was first indicted in 2009 in Manhattan federal courtroom on narcotics prices and for allegedly offering help to a far-right paramilitary group designated a terrorist organisation by Washington.

Later indictments in Brooklyn and Miami federal courts accused him of importing into the US a minimum of 73 metric tonnes of cocaine between 2003 and 2014 by way of nations together with Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Honduras.

The US made a formal request for his extradition in late November, simply weeks after he was captured within the northern Uraba area, a key drug route.

Colombia’s excessive courtroom dismissed a petition from a gaggle of Otoniel’s victims who argued that his extradition would violate their rights to justice and reparation and demanded he first face the greater than 128 proceedings in opposition to him in Colombia.

Duque mentioned that from the US, Otoniel would proceed collaborating with the Colombian authorities within the investigations in opposition to him and as soon as he completes his sentences for drug trafficking, he’ll return to “Colombia to pay for the crimes he dedicated”.

The extradition comes simply weeks after former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was extradited to the US to face drug trafficking and weapons prices of his personal.