The Phoenix Mercury released a statement Thursday standing behind Brittney Griner amid the WNBA star’s nine-year sentence for smuggling drugs with criminal intent by a Russian court on Thursday. Griner was also fined 1 million rubles, or the equivalent of $16,500.
“While we knew it was never the legal process that was going to bring our friend home, today’s verdict is a sobering milestone in the 168-day nightmare being endured by our sister, BG,” the team said in a statement.
“We remain heartbroken for her, as we have every day for nearly six months.
“We remain grateful to and confident in the public servants working every day to return her to her family and us.
“We remain faithful the Administration will do what it takes to end her wrongful detention.
“We are inspired every day by BG’s strength and we are steadfastly committed to keeping her top-of-mind publicly until she is safely back on American soil.
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“We will not allow her to be forgotten. We are BG.”
Phoenix joined the NBA and WNBA in releasing a supportive statement for Griner.
The Mercury have stood behind Griner since she was arrested at a Moscow airport for carrying hashish oil in February. The team met with the State Department in June to remain updated on what the U.S. government is doing to try and bring Griner back to the United States. Last month, the team organized a rally for family, teammates and fans, advocating for her release.
Griner pled guilty in July, and faced up to 10 years in prison with the trial, though Russian prosecutors asked for 9.5 years. The U.S. has offered Russia a prisoner swap in order to bring Griner home, CNN reported in late July.
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