American basketball star Brittney Griner seemed to know she would face a severe sentence, having previously told her lawyer she knew it would be “doomsday” for her.
Ms Griner also said “I love my family” on Thursday as she was led handcuffed from a Russian courtroom after being sentenced to nine years in prison for drug possession, Reuters reported.
“When we saw Brittney on Tuesday, we said ‘See you Thursday’. She said, ‘See you on Judgment Day. So it looks like she was right,” Ms Griner’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina said, according to Reuters.
The basketball star was convicted of drug possession and smuggling after entering Russia with vaping cartridges containing cannabis.
Her conviction was described by her agent as “heavy by Russian legal standards”.
“Today’s conviction of Brittney Griner was harsh by Russian legal standards and proves what we knew all along, that Brittney is being used as a political pawn,” tweeted Lindsay Kagawa Colas, the basketball star’s agent.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said officials would continue to work to return Ms. Griner and Paul Whelan to US soil.
“Nothing about today’s decision changes our determination that Brittney Griner is being wrongfully detained,” he added.
President Joe Biden called the sentence “unacceptable” and called on Russia to release the basketball star immediately so she can be with her “wife, loved ones, friends and teammates.”
“Today, US citizen Brittney Griner was given a prison sentence that is another reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongly holding Brittney,” Biden said.
Ms Griner’s lawyer said she was “very upset” and “very stressed” by the verdict.
During her closing remarks, the Houston resident said it had been “an honest mistake.”