Published by
Reuters

KHIMKI, Russia (Reuters) -A Russian prosecutor demanded U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner be sentenced to nine and a half years in prison on drugs charges at a trial that is expected to end in a verdict later on Thursday.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star, was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Feb. 17 with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.

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

“The verdict is expected to be announced this evening,” said Griner’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina, partner at Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Partners law firm.

The cartridges threw the 31-year-old Texan athlete into the geopolitical maelstrom triggered when President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

During the most strained U.S.-Russian relations since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, U.S. President Joe Biden is under pressure to intervene on behalf of detained Americans – including Griner.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)