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Russian Court Rejects Brittney Griner’s Appeal On 9-Year Sentence, White House Calls Judicial Proceeding A ’Sham’

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The White House blasts Brittney Griner’s appeal rejection, dubbing the judicial proceeding a “sham!” Details inside…

A Russian court rejected Brittney Griner's appeal of her nine-year prison sentence for drug possession, bringing her closer to a high-stakes prisoner swap between Russia and the United States. The decision will send the WNBA star to a penal colony, which is a labor camp, for 8 years.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time all-star center for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, who plays professional basketball in Russia during the WNBA offseason, was convicted on August 4th after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport back in February.



The 32-year-old did not attend the hearing at the Moscow Regional Court but appeared via video link from a penal colony outside the capital where she is being held.

“We think we should use all legal tools available but that is her decision to take,” Maria Blagovolina, Griner’s lawyer, told reporters outside of the court. Blagovolina added Brittney was disappointed to hear the decision from the three-judge panel. “She had some hope but that vanished today,” Blagovolina said.

The AP reports:

The nine-year sentence was close to the maximum of 10 years, and Griner’s lawyers argued after the conviction that the punishment was excessive. They said in similar cases defendants have received an average sentence of about five years, with about a third of them granted parole.

While upholding the sentence, the court said Griner’s prison time will be recalculated to reflect what she has already served in pre-trial detention. One day in pre-trial detention will be counted as 1 1/2 days in prison, so she still will have to serve about eight years in prison. Griner’s lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in an email that they were “very disappointed” with the decision because they still believe “the punishment is excessive and contradicts to the existing court practice.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the decision “another failure of justice, compounding the injustice of her detention,” adding that “securing her release is our priority.”

White House National Security advisor Jake Sullivan addressed the continued wrongful detention of Brittney Griner during a recent press conference, blasting the hearing as a “sham!”

“We are aware of the news out of Russia that Brittney Griner will continue to be wrongfully detained under intolerable circumstances after having to undergo another sham judicial proceeding today. President Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately. In recent weeks, the Biden-Harris Administration has continued to engage with Russia through every available channel and make every effort to bring home Brittney as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia, including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan. The President has demonstrated that he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths and make tough decisions to bring Americans home, as his Administration has done successfully from countries around the world. The Administration remains in regular touch with representatives of the families, and we continue to admire their courage in the face of these unimaginable circumstances.”

Last week, BG celebrated her 32nd birthday in prison overseas. In her absence, Brittney’s wife, Cherelle Griner, posted a birthday tribute to her wife on social media:

”Happy Birthday to my favorite person! Missing your company even more today! #WeAreBG,” she wrote.

Since Brittney’s arrest in February, Brittney’s wife has been fighting to get her home, meeting with President Joe Biden last month after calling for his help back in May:

So tragic! Reportedly, Brittney Griner's fate is likely to be determined by the exchange of not one, but two Russian prisoners. Hopefully, she can be brought home soon.

Photos: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

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