Photo: Getty Images
  /  08.15.2022

Today (Aug. 15), Brittney Griner’s defense team filed an appeal for her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug smuggling. ESPN reports that the WNBA player’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina announced that while the appeal has been filed, the details surrounding the appeal are not yet clear.

As previously reported by REVOLT, on Aug. 4, the professional athlete received nine years in a Russian prison. Griner, who has been detained overseas since early February, was caught traveling through Russia’s Sheremetyevo International Airport with a vape cartridge that contained cannabis oil. Under Russian law, the Phoenix Mercury’s legal team had 10 days to file the appeal after her arrest. Blagovolina and co-counsel Alexander Boykov argued that Griner’s sentence was extremely harsh compared to others with similar cases who have been sentenced to five years. They added that in most instances, about one-third of those people were granted parole.

While Griner admitted to having the oil in her possession during a guilty plea, she insisted that she did not intend to break the law. Her attorneys later revealed the athlete was prescribed the substance to assist with pain from a chronic injury. According to ESPN, a senior Russian official shared more details about Griner’s possible prison exchange yesterday (Aug. 14). “This quite sensitive issue of the swap of convicted Russian and U.S. citizens is being discussed through the channels defined by our presidents. These individuals are, indeed, being discussed. The Russian side has long been seeking the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to professionals, proceeding from the ‘do not harm‘ principle,” Alexander Darchiev, head of the foreign ministry’s North America department, told state news agency TASS.

Griner isn’t the only American that officials are trying to free from Russia. Today a U.S. State Department spokesperson said the United States government “continues to urge Russia to release wrongful detainees Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.” According to CNN, Whelan, a former United States Marine, was taken into custody in Russia for alleged espionage in 2018.

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