Russian court upholds Britney Griner sentence
The Moscow Regional Court ruled in favor of upholding the nine-year sentence of imprisoned WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner after her appeal on Tuesday.
Griner was taken into custody at a Moscow airport on February 17 when cannabis oil was found in her luggage. She received a nine-year prison sentence after being convicted on drug smuggling charges.
Her attorneys were expected to argue that the verdict was unjustified and unfair under Russian law, according to CNN.
Griner attended the hearing via video conference, and the outcome of the appeal was expected on Tuesday according to her lawyers Alexander Boykov and Maria Blagovolina.
The hearing was scheduled to start at 11 AM local time but was postponed for two hours.
According to the 32-year-old’s legal team, the court could decide to leave the original ruling in place, overrule the verdict and send it back to a lower court, or reduce Griner’s prison term.
Later on Tuesday afternoon, it was decided that the court would uphold the decision.
Boykov said that in the case of this outcome, the legal process “will be basically over” for Griner, who was concerned she would have to serve the remainder of her sentence in Russia if her appeal was unsuccessful.
The legal team said in a statement, that Griner did “not expect any miracles to happen” but hoped that the appeal court “will hear the arguments of the defense and reduce the term.”
“She is very nervous waiting for the appeal hearing,” they added.
The US State Department has claimed that Griner is wrongfully detained, despite her pleading guilty, with the Biden administration communicating with Russia to try and secure her release and that of imprisoned American Paul Whelan, according to a senior White House official who spoke to CNN last week.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova previously noted that Griner was facing trial in Russia based on Russian laws, not those in many US states which have a relaxed attitude to cannabis use.