Report: Moscow Regional Court upholds conviction of Brittney Griner
WNBA star Brittney Griner’s appeal was dismissed by a Russian court on Tuesday. Griner attempted to appeal his nine-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to narcotics possession and contraband charges during his drug trial. During the trial, Griner testified that she had no criminal intent. Officials say Griner’s appeal hearing took place via zoom call, with the WNBA player speaking from behind bars in the jail cell she’s been held in since February. Griner is located in a detention center just outside Moscow.
Griner called her situation “traumatic” when she spoke in court about how she was kept apart from her family. She pleaded for the court to reassess what was “overlooked” in her last drug trial and give her a lesser sentence.
“I’ve been here for almost eight months and people who have committed more serious crimes have received less than what I received. I really hope the court will adjust this sentence because it has been very, very stressful and very traumatic for my mind and psyche and being away from my family, not being able to communicate.
Additionally, Griner’s attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov argued that the sentence imposed was excessive and “absolutely unreasonable” compared to other similar cases that took place on Russian soil. Attorney Blagovolina presented a note from an American doctor during Griner’s trial, stating that the player had been ordered to use medical cannabis to treat pain.
They also said the ruling completely ignored the fact that the amount of cannabis oils found in her luggage was low. US officials called the decision a “miscarriage of justice” and used the appeal hearing to further justify their statements that Griner was wrongfully detained. With her legal options exhausted, her chances of returning home rest solely on the Biden administration and its prisoner swap talks with Russia.
Officials say the administration offered Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner and Paul Whelan. Whelan was detained in a hostel in Moscow. He was arrested for alleged espionage. Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison after being convicted of the charges in June 2020.
“This rather sensitive issue of the exchange of convicted Russian and American citizens is being discussed through the channels set by our presidents,” North American Department Director Alexander Darchiev said in a statement. “These individuals are, indeed, the subject of discussions. The Russian side has long demanded the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to the professionals, based on the “do no harm” principle.
CNN has more HERE.