8:41 AM PT — President Joe Biden has just slammed the ruling … calling the sentence "unacceptable" — and vowing to do everything in his power to get Griner home soon.
"I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates," Biden said in a statement released by the White House on Thursday.
"My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible."
8:26 AM PT — Griner has just been sentenced to nine years behind bars in the case. She was also slapped with a 1 million rubles fine (about $16,300). She will have the opportunity to appeal.
In all likelihood, Griner won’t serve the sentence in its entirety. U.S. and Russian officials have been negotiating a prisoner swap that would reportedly include a Russian arms dealer nicknamed “The Merchant of Death.”
8:06 AM PT — A Russian judge just announced Griner has been found guilty of the charges against her. The WNBA superstar’s sentencing is expected to be revealed shortly.
Brittney Griner was emotional in Russian court on Thursday … apologizing for "my mistake that I made," while pleading with the judge to hand down a light sentence.
Griner issued the mea culpa at another hearing in her drug case … telling the Moscow courtroom she was deeply sorry for inadvertently packing hashish oil in her luggage back in mid-February.
"I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of [Yekaterinburg] for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them," the WNBA superstar said.
"I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home."
According to Associated Press reporters on the scene, Griner — wearing a gray T-shirt and dark pants — appeared to be very emotional while saying she was sorry.
Griner later urged the judge to take it easy on her when her sentence is eventually handed down … saying she hopes the ruling "does not end my life.”
Prosecutors, though, reportedly argued in the courtroom Thursday that Griner did intentionally bring the cannabis oil … and urged the judge to sentence the 31-year-old to 9.5 years behind bars. They also reportedly argued Griner should be hit with a big fine.
The judge is expected to make a ruling in the case as early as Thursday afternoon.
U.S. officials, meanwhile, have classified her as wrongfully detained … and have confirmed they’ve made Russia a substantial trade offer to ultimately bring her home.
Originally Published — 7:32 AM PT