Lawyers appeal Griner’s Russian prison sentence

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Moscow — lawyer for american Basketball Star Brittany Griner on Monday filed an appeal against a nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession, Russian news agencies reported on Monday.

Griner, center of the Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted on August 4. He was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after vape canisters containing cannabis oil were found in his luggage.

Griner played for a women’s basketball team in Yekaterinburg during the WNBA off-season.

Lawyer Maria Blagovolina, quoted by Russian news agencies on Monday, said the appeal had been filed, but the grounds for the appeal were not immediately clear.

Blagovolina and co-lawyer Alexander Boykov said after sentencing that the sentence was excessive and that defendants in similar cases have received an average sentence of about five years, of which about a third have been granted parole.

Griner acknowledged that there were canisters in his luggage, but said he had unknowingly packed them in haste and had no criminal intent. Her defense team submitted a written statement that she was given cannabis to treat the pain.

Prior to his sentencing, the US State Department declared Griner “wrongfully detained”.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of publicly disclosing in July that the US had made a “substantial offer” to bring Griner back home, as well as Paul Whelan, an American who has been sentenced to 16 years for espionage in Russia. was serving a sentence.

Blinken did not elaborate, but the Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to free Victor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the US and was once a “merchant of Death” nickname. ,

On Sunday, a senior Russian diplomat said exchange talks had been held.

“This very sensitive issue of swapping convicted Russian and American citizens is being discussed through channels defined by our presidents,” Alexander Durchev, the head of the State Department’s North America department, told Tass state news agency. “These individuals are, in fact, , discussions are being held. The Russian side has long been demanding the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to the professionals, proceeding from the ‘do not harm’ principle. ‘”

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