Brittney Griner was found guilty of smuggling illegal narcotics into Russia and sentenced to nine years in prison on Thursday. Griner had told the court she used marijuana for medicinal purposes, as is legal in the United States and other countries. She was caught with less than a gram of cannabis oil.
Former President Trump bashed Griner recently, calling her “a potentially spoiled person” who went to Russia “loaded up with drugs,” and right-wingers are now celebrating the verdict on social media in step with the Russian state, which found no sympathy for WNBA star and two-time U.S. Olympic gold champ.
Right-wing author Dinesh D’Souza used the conviction to defend Jan. 6 insurrectionists who tried to overthrow the U.S. government. “It seems like the Russians are doing to Griner what the Biden administration is doing to non-violent January 6 protesters,” D’Souza wrote. “Hard for us to feign indignation when the same thing is going on here!”
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Conservative pundit Tomi Lahren showed her trademark lack of empathy, taking aim at Griner’s activism for racial justice and implying she hates America. “Brittney Griner is a cautionary tale. Hate America? Think it’s oppressive? Go to another country, play stupid games and find out what oppression and ‘No justice’ looks like. Too bad too sad.”
Commentator Tim Young whose Twitter handle is apropos for his comment, wrote “Brittney Griner is not a political prisoner… she carried drugs that were illegal with her in Russia and was arrested – there’s nothing ‘political’ about that.”
Trump-approved conservative commentator/author Nick Adams blamed Griner’s support of President Biden for the sentence and falsely claimed there would not have been an invasion of Ukraine had his Dear Leader been president. “While discussing Brittney Griner’s prison sentence, I think it’s important to note that Russia would have NEVER invaded Ukraine with Trump still in the White House,” Adams wrote. “In a way, Brittney Griner’s jail time is a result of her own activism and support of Joe Biden.”
As Media Matters pointed out in the lead-up to the sentencing, conservatives have been using Griner as a pawn alongside Russia, with each side furthering their agenda. The right wing wanted Trump as president over Biden and claim Trump would’ve saved Griner from jail. Meanwhile Russia likely wanted to exchange Griner for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is currently imprisoned in America.
However, when the State Department made the offer to include U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former security executive Paul Whelan, Russia countered that offer with what the White House called a “bad faith” counter offer. President Biden addressed Griner’s detention following the guilty verdict on Thursday. “Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” he wrote in a statement. “It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”
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