Griner was stopped as she entered Russia to play for Ekaterinburg on February 17, 2022, at a Russian airport. Authorities asserted that her luggage included vape cartridges filled with cannabis oil, a substance that was prohibited in Russia.
A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting a fierce American response. Many believed that Griner’s detention was politically motivated. Her situation received a lot of media attention while she was detained, and calls for her release increased. However, other people were concerned that Griner might become a more valuable prisoner because to the media attention.
Griner entered a guilty plea at the start of her trial in July 2022, despite the fact that she claimed the cannabis oil had been packed inadvertently. The trial went through in accordance with Russian judicial regulations, and Griner’s attorneys eventually claimed that she had a prescription for the drug. Additionally, Griner stated in her testimony that she was made to sign documents in Russian that she did not understand after being arrested.
Griner was found guilty of transporting illegal substances with the purpose to commit a crime on August 4, 2022, and she was given a nine-year prison term. This occurred amid rumors that Griner and other prisoners were the subject of negotiations between the US and Russia. A Russian court dismissed her appeal in October 2022. The ruling seemed to exhaust her legal options, further raising the possibility of a negotiated release.