Brittney Griner’s Lawyers Appeal Russian Jail Sentence

American basketball player Brittney Griner (right) is escorted by police before a hearing during her trial for drug trafficking, in Khimki, near Moscow, on August 2, 2022. (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)

Lawyers for America basketball star Brittney Griner filed an appeal against her on Monday nine-year Russian prison sentence for possession of drugs, Russian news agencies reported on Monday.

Griner, a Phoenix Mercury center and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was sentenced Aug. 4. She was arrested in February at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow after vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage.

Griner played for a women’s basketball team in Yekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason.

Lawyer Maria Blagovolina was quoted by Russian news agencies on Monday as saying the appeal had been filed, but the grounds for the appeal were not immediately clear.

Blagovolina and co-counsel Alexander Boykov said after the conviction that the sentence was excessive and that in similar cases defendants received an average sentence of around five years, of which around a third were granted parole.

Griner admitted she had the canisters in her luggage, but said she inadvertently hastily packed them and had no criminal intent. His defense team presented written statements that he was prescribed cannabis to treat the pain.

Prior to her sentencing, the US State Department said Griner was “wrongfully detained.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of publicly revealing in July that the United States had made a “substantial offer” to bring Griner home, along with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for spying.

RELATED: What will it take to bring Brittney Griner home?

Blinken did not give details, but the Associated Press and other news outlets reported that Washington had offered to free Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the United States and who once earned the nickname “Merchant of Death”. .”

On Sunday, a senior Russian diplomat said swap talks had been held.

“This rather sensitive issue of the exchange of convicted Russian and American citizens is being discussed through the channels set by our presidents,” Alexander Darchiev, head of the Foreign Ministry’s North America department, told the agency. official Tass press release. “These individuals are indeed being discussed. The Russian side has been calling for the release of Viktor Bout for a long time. The details should be left to the professionals, on the basis of ‘do no harm’.”

RELATED: Russia confirms prisoner swap talks with US after Brittney Griner sentencing

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