Russian prosecutors are seeking to put Brittney Griner in prison for 9 1/2-years on cannabis possession charges, according to ESPN's T.J. Quinn. The prosecutors' requests were made during closing arguments of Griner's trial, which ended on Thursday.
Griner's lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, said that a verdict in the case is
Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February for having vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage. The 31-year-old WNBA star told the judge that she "never meant to break any law" during closing arguments.
However, Prosecutor Nikolai Vlasenko believes that Griner packed the cannabis oil deliberately and urged the court to give Griner a fine of 1 million rubles (an estimated $16,700) in addition to a prison sentence.
"I know everybody keeps talking about 'political pawn' and 'politics,' but I hope that is far from this courtroom," Griner said as she addressed the court.
In July prior to her trial, the U.S. State Department argued that Griner was "wrongfully detained. As a result, the United States moved her case to the supervision of its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs. If Griner isn't acquitted of the charges, the next course of action could be a prisoner swap between the United States and Russia.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken communicated with Russian Secretary of State Sergey Lavrov last week in what CBS News referred to as an "extraordinary move" and asked him to accept a swap of Griner and Paul Whelan, who is an American currently imprisoned in Russian on charges related to an espionage conviction.
According to CBS News, "people familiar with the proposal" say Griner and Whelan would be swapped for notorious arms trader Viktor Bout.