The WNBA star’s nine-year sentence is close to the 10-year maximum, and her attorneys say it’s outrageous.
MOSCOW, Russia – A Russian court on Monday set October 25 as the date American basketball star Brittney Griner appealed against a nine-year prison sentence for drug possession.
Griner, an eight-time all-star with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was sentenced August 4 after police said they found a vape box containing cannabis oil. in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
The Moscow Regional Court said it would hear her appeal.
Griner admitted that she had the boxes in her luggage, but testified that she had unknowingly packed them in a hurry and that she had no intention of committing the crime. Her defense team presented written statements that she was prescribed cannabis to treat pain.
Her arrest in February came at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At the time, Griner, recognized as one of the greatest players in WNBA history, was returning to Russia, where she played during the season of the US league.
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The nine-year sentence is close to the 10-year maximum, and Griner’s lawyers argued after conviction that the punishment was excessive. In similar cases, they said, defendants received an average sentence of about five years, with about a third being pardoned.
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Prior to his conviction, the US State Department claimed Griner was “wrongfully detained” – an allegation Russia has categorically denied.
Reflecting growing pressure on the Biden administration to do more to bring Griner home, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of publicly revealing in July that Washington had offered a ” important proposal” to bring Griner home with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage.
Blinken did not elaborate, but the Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to trade Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year sentence in the US and formerly known as the “The merchant of death.”
The White House said it has yet to receive an effective response from Russia to the request.
Russian diplomats declined to comment on the US proposal and urged Washington to discuss the matter in secret talks, avoiding public statements.
https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/brittney-griner-appeal-set/507-c60ab4ba-4162-4f6b-a3d1-13c83746f253 Brittney Griner’s appeal hearing set for late October in Russia