Brittney Griner’s lawyers appeal her nine-year sentence in Russia

brittney griner court russia lesbian
Images: Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons, ABC News

Lawyers for US lesbian basketballer Brittney Griner have filed an appeal against her nine-year prison sentence in a Russian prison.

The 31-year-old was arrested in February at an airport near Moscow, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Airport officials found vape cartridges infused with small amounts of cannabis in her luggage.

After months in detention, a Russian court jailed Griner for nine years on August 4 for drug possession and trafficking. US president Joe Biden slammed the sentence as “unacceptable” and maintained the athlete was “wrongfully detained”.

Griner’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina filed an appeal against the verdict on Monday local time, Reuters reported.

The attorneys said the appeal will likely take three months for adjudication. However her legal team has repeatedly warned Griner has little chance of acquittal.

Her defense team attempted to soften the player’s inevitable sentence by having her plead guilty. Judge Anna Sotnikova said she took the guilty plea and Griner’s remorse into account in her ruling. But Griner’s legal team accused her of failing to do so, and said the sentence was “excessive”.

Brittney Griner, who’s played basketball for both the US and Russia, earlier told the court she’d made “an honest mistake” in inadvertently packing the canisters.

She said she had no criminal intent and begged for the judge’s sentence to “not end my life”.

‘Substantial proposal on the table’ for Brittney Griner’s release

President Biden and the US State Department have maintained Russia has wrongfully detained Brittney Griner.

The basketballers case has raised concerns Russia is using her as a political pawn in the ongoing war against Ukraine.

US officials have reportedly offered Russia a potential prisoner swap to try to bring Griner home safely.

A US State Department spokesperson told CNN a US government “continues to urge Russia to release wrongful detainees Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan,” a American jailed in Russia on a disputed espionage conviction.

“As [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] said, ‘There was a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release.’

But the spokesperson declined to “go into detail of what we proposed to the Russians”.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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