Brittney Griner's Russian Lawyers File Appeal Against Draconian Nine-Year Prison Sentence For Cannabis Oil Possession

Brittney Griner's legal team has filed an appeal against a Russian court's verdict sentencing the WNBA star to nine years in prison after being arrested for possession of a small amount of cannabis oil found in her suitcase, Griner's lawyer Maria Blagovolina told CNN on Monday.

The Moscow Times also reported the news, quoting AFP.

"Brittney Griner's defense team filed an appeal for the verdict," her legal team said on the messenger Telegram. 

The date of the appeal hearing is yet to be set.

On Saturday, The Moscow Times reported that a Russian diplomat officially confirmed for the first time that Moscow seeks convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout to be a part of the proposed Brittney Griner prisoner swap that would also include former Marine Paul Whelan.

"The discussions on the very sensitive topic of an exchange are proceeding via the channels chosen by our presidents," Alexander Datchiev, the head the North America department at the Russian Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying by state news agency TASS.

"Silent diplomacy continues and should bear fruit if Washington, of course, is careful not to fall into propaganda," Datchiev said.

The US State Department maintains Griner is wrongfully detained, and her case has raised concerns she is being used as a political pawn in Russia's war against Ukraine. Griner was detained on February 17, less than a week before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Griner has been traveling to Russia for the past seven years to play for the professional Yekaterinburg team during her off-season from the Phoenix Mercury.  

The two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist pleaded guilty to drug charges and said she accidentally packed the drugs while in a hurry.

Photo: WilliamCho by Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons


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