Brittney Griner will appeal her prison sentence in Russia on Tuesday

by | Oct 24, 2022 | Top Stories

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Women’s National Basketball Association player Brittney Griner leaves the courtroom after the verdict in Khimki, outside Moscow, on Aug. 4. A Russian court found Griner guilty of smuggling and storing narcotics.

Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

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Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

MOSCOW — Jailed American basketball star Brittney Griner will formally appeal her conviction and sentencing on drug smuggling charges in Russia on Tuesday — the latest stage in a legal drama that has shadowed a breakdown in U.S.-Russian relations over the conflict in Ukraine. Griner will observe Tuesday’s Moscow court hearing by video feed from the women’s detention center where she is being held outside the Russian capital. According to a statement released by Griner’s legal team, the judge’s verdict on her appeal is expected the same day — with Griner holding out hope for a reduction in her prison term. “Brittney does not expect any miracles to happen but hopes that the appeal court will hear the arguments of the defense and reduce the term,” read the statement.

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Brittney Griner vies for the ball in the women’s final basketball match between the U.S. and Japan during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in August 2021.

Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images

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Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images

In August, a Russian court sentenced Griner to nine years in prison for carrying less than a gram (0.04 oz.) of hashish oil into Russia when she arrived for play in the Russian women’s professional basketball league earlier this year. In court, Griner admitted to mistakenly packing two vape cartridges in her rush to pack her luggage — but provided documents that showed the oil was legally prescribed by her U.S. doctor for pain management. She also never failed a drug test.

The U.S. government has labeled Griner “wrongfully detained” and referred her case to the State Department’s office for hostage affairs amid charges the case was politically motivated. Griner’s Russian lawyers have also noted the American’s nine-year sentence on drug charges was unusually harsh, even by Russian legal standards. U.S.-Russia prisoner trade negotiations continue Tuesday’s appeals hearing comes as Washington and Moscow have engaged in on-again, off-again talks over a potential prisoner exchange involving Griner. The White House says it made a “substantial offer” over the summer — widely reported to involve a suggested trade of convicted …

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