MOSCOW — Lawyers for American basketball star Brittney Griner on Monday appealed her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession, Russian news agencies reported.
Griner, a Phoenix Mercury center and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was sentenced Aug. 4. She was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February after vape canisters 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 as saying by Russian news outlets on Monday that the appeal had been filed but the reasons for the appeal were not immediately clear.
The appeal was expected. Griner’s defense team said after Griner was convicted that it plans to appeal and has 10 days under Russian law to do so.
Blagovolina and co-counsel Alexander Boykov said after the sentencing that the sentence was excessive and that defendants in similar cases had received an average sentence of about five years, with about a third of them being paroled.
Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage, but said that she accidentally packed them in a hurry and that she had no criminal intent. Her defense team submitted written statements that her cannabis had been prescribed to treat pain.
Prior to her sentencing, the US State Department declared Griner “unlawfully detained.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of publicly revealing in July that the US had made a “substantive proposal” to bring Griner home, along with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage has served. He didn’t elaborate, but AP and other news organizations have reported that the US has offered to release Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the US and once nicknamed himself the “dealer of death.” ‘ deserved. “
On Sunday, a senior Russian diplomat said exchange talks had been held.
“This rather sensitive issue of exchanging convicted Russian and US citizens is being discussed through the channels established by our presidents. These individuals are actually discussed. The Russian side has long been trying to secure Viktor Bout’s release. The details should be left to professionals on a do-not-harm basis,” Alexander Darchiev, head of the State Department’s North America department, told state news agency Tass.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/34401846/brittney-griner-defense-team-files-appeal-conviction Brittney Griner’s defense team files appeal of conviction