Hollywood stars reacted with outrage on Thursday as it was revealed that Britney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison for bringing marijuana plants into the country in February.
Justin Bieber, Mia Farrow and Andy Cohen Celebrities expressed their displeasure in various social media posts made after news of the sentence broke.
“This hurts,” Bieber, 28, posted on his Instagram Story. ‘If anyone knows where I can help please let me know.’
Farrow, 77, called the verdict ‘heartbreaking’ as she tweeted: The Russian judge ignored everything Brittany Griner said. He sentenced her to 9 years in a “penal colony”. To carry 2 vapor cartridges – medically prescribed. damn it Heartbreaking.’
‘It hurts’: Hollywood stars reacted with outrage on Thursday as it was revealed that Britney Griner has been sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison for bringing a cannabis plant into the country in February.
Meanwhile, Cohen tweeted in all caps, ‘Bring Britney home.’ He added an American flag and praying hands emoji.
Monty Python actor Eric Idle tweeted: ‘Brittany Griner: basketball star jailed for nine years on drug charges.
‘So attacking a neighboring country would take 90,000 years for Putin on the same scale.’
Author Greg Ollier tweeted: ‘Brittany Griner is a hostage. This is a kidnapping, sanctioned by Putin’s government.’
Jada Pinkett Smith also showed her support for Britney as she referenced the latest developments in the Brona Taylor case.
‘The same day where we finally got justice for Breona… I know Brittany Griner just spent 9 years in Russia,’ he posted. She added the hashtag ‘Free Britney’ and several broken heart emojis.
Standing up for Britney: Bieber and Mia Farrow were among the celebrities standing up for the athlete
Disbelief: Mia Farrow called the verdict ‘heartbreaking’
Viola Davis was also shocked after this verdict. ‘No words. The scales of justice just broke. In 9 years he won’t even be able to return to basketball…for a VAPE!!!!! (broken heart emoji) #FreeBrittneyGriner,’ she posted on Instagram.
Not everyone shared the same view, however, with comedian Tim Young writing: ‘Brittany Griner is not a political prisoner… She was arrested in Russia for carrying illegal drugs – nothing “political” about that.’
NBA star Griner was found guilty of drug-trafficking charges by a judge on Thursday who rejected his claim that he accidentally brought the drugs in. Prosecutors had asked for a nine-and-a-half-year prison sentence, less than six months. Maximum 10 years imprisonment.
Griner, a WNBA star, was found guilty of drug trafficking by a judge on Thursday who rejected her claim that she accidentally brought the drugs.
‘Free Britney’: Jada Pinkett Smith also showed her support for Britney as she referenced the latest developments in the Brona Taylor case.
‘No words’: Viola Davies was also shocked by the verdict
President Biden immediately condemned the sentence and claimed he was ‘wrongfully detained’ – despite admitting his guilt. She said it was an ‘honest mistake’ and the drugs must have ended up in her bag ‘accidentally’.
In a statement following the sentencing, Biden said: ‘Russia wrongfully detained Britney. This is unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release him immediately so he can be with his wife, loved ones, friends and teammates.’
He said he would “relentlessly try” to pursue “every avenue possible” to bring him and another American, Paul Whelan, who is being held in Russia, home.
Griner, 31, was arrested at a Moscow airport in February and has remained in jail since, despite unsuccessful attempts by the White House to negotiate his release.
Monty Python actor Eric Eyed was among those who expressed displeasure at the verdict
Author Greg Ollier tweeted: ‘Brittany Griner is a hostage. This is a kidnapping, sanctioned by Putin’s government.
On Thursday, she sat in the defendant’s cage inside the courtroom, relying on an interpreter to relay everything the judge said.
Before sentencing, she pleaded for leniency and asked the court to consider her good character.
A judge accepted his plea – finding him guilty of drug possession and trafficking. They decided he committed the crimes deliberately – which he denied.
She said she did not want to be a political pawn, and that bringing cannabis into the country was a simple, ‘honest mistake’.
Russia has become my second home. I distinctly remember walking out of the gym and all the little girls coming out and waiting for me. This is what made me come back here.
‘I want to apologize to my team-mates, my club and the city for the mistakes I made and the embarrassment I caused.
Speaking: Andy Cohen tweets in all caps, ‘Bring Britney home’
Not everyone shared the same view, however, with comedian Tim Young writing: ‘Brittney Griner is not a political prisoner… she was arrested for carrying illegal drugs in Russia – nothing “political” about it’
‘I would also like to apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury, the wonderful women of the WNBA and my wonderful spouse at home.
“I never wanted to hurt anyone, I never wanted to endanger the Russian population, I never broke any laws.
‘I made an honest mistake and I hope your decision doesn’t end my life. I know everyone keeps talking about political pawns and politics…but I hope it is far from this court.
‘I had no intention of breaking Russian law. I did not conspire and plan to commit this crime.
‘I hope you will take note of all the documents, character lists sent on my behalf.
Griner was placed in a cell while his legal team sat around him at a table. He had to rely on an interpreter to convey what the judge said
Griner holds a team photo showing her playing UMMC Ekaterinburg, a Russian team that spent the off-season bolstering her WNBA earnings.
‘This is my second home. I want to make them proud by winning the championship,’ she said. The State Department was negotiating to secure Griner’s release as part of a deal that would also bring home imprisoned American Paul Whelan.
The deal has been in the works for weeks, but Russia has yet to agree.
US officials would not confirm reports that this included freeing Viktor Bolt, a Russian criminal known as the ‘merchant of death’.
During closing arguments Thursday, his lawyers pleaded for leniency.
His lawyer Maria Blagovolina said, ‘Usain Bolt is in sprinting, Michael Schumacher is in Formula 1 and Brittany Griner is in women’s basketball.
Griner was led into court in handcuffs. He has been in custody since February
Griner shakes hands with his lawyer Alexander Boykov, right. Elizabeth Rudd, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, is shown, left
Blagovolina, a partner at the Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Partners law firm, said that if the court deems it necessary to sentence him, Griner should be treated leniently.
Griner’s family said they were disappointed by the White House’s response to the situation.
White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday that Russia had responded in “bad faith” to the U.S. government’s offer, a counteroffer that U.S. officials did not consider serious.
She declined to elaborate.
Griner admitted to having vapor canisters containing cannabis oil in his luggage when he was arrested at the Moscow airport.
But she said she had no criminal intent and was packing in a hurry so the canisters ended up in her bag.
‘I still don’t understand how they got into my bag,’ she said.
Griner was prescribed medical marijuana in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries, a treatment method that is common among elite athletes because it has fewer side effects than some pain relievers.
She played for the Russian women’s basketball team in the WNBA off-season.
As part of the deal, the White House offered to swap Whelan and Griner, but not Mark Fogel — a teacher who was jailed in Russia in 2021 on suspicion of drug trafficking.
His family has pleaded with the Biden administration for help. Many have called for Griner’s release on the grounds that marijuana is legal in the US.