US basketball player Brittney Griner has been found guilty of drug possession and smuggling with criminal intent by a Russian court.

The court sentenced Griner to nine years in a penal colony and fined the star a million rubles – approximately $16,300.

According to The New York Times, the queer athlete’s defence described the verdict as “absolutely unreasonable” and said they “will certainly file an appeal”.

Griner was detained back in February after authorities found cannabis oil in her luggage.

Her lawyers later submitted a letter from a US medical centre that permitted Griner to use medical cannabis in order to combat her “chronic pain”.

“On May 18, 2020, Brittney Griner underwent a clinical examination… The patient complained of acute chronic pain due to multiple ankle injuries, as well as injuries and pain sustained during her sports career,” the letter said.

“The patient complained of pain in the middle back, lower back, knees and ankle pain.”

Griner’s team put forward a written testimony from the doctor and character witnesses from her Russian team, Yekaterinburg, who she played for during the WNBA offseason.

They also cited her lack of criminal record and crucial role in “the development of Russian basketball”.

Before the verdict, Griner said she didn’t intend to break the law when she brought the vape cartridges on her flight, and apologised to her teammates and fans “for my mistake” and “the embarrassment that I brought on them”.

“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,” she added.

After both sides presented closing arguments, Griner reiterated that she made “an honest mistake” and pleaded for the court to not “end” her life, adding: “I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime.”

She also expressed how Yekaterinburg had become a “second home” for her.

“I had no idea that the team, the cities, the fans, my teammates would make such a great impression on me over the six and a half years that I spent here”, she told the court.

“I remember vividly coming out of the gym and all the little girls that were in the stands there waiting on me, and that’s what kept making me come back here.”

In July, the Joe Biden administration offered to exchange convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout as part of a deal to release Griner.

Antony Blinken, State Secretary, said the White House had struck a deal with the Kremlin to secure her release.

“There was a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release. Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal,” Blinken said.

“And I’ll use the conversation to follow up personally and I hope, move us toward a resolution.”

Following the verdict, President Biden issued the following statement: “Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.

“My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”