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Law

Brittney Griner Files Appeal of Russian Prison Sentence

  • Griner was sentenced to nine years for cannabis possession on Aug. 4.
  • Similar cases receive an average of five years in prison with high possibility of parole, per her defense team.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, Brittney Griner’s legal team has filed an appeal of her nine-year Russian prison sentence, per Russian news agencies.

Defense lawyer Maria Blagovina said Monday that the appeal has been filed, but not on what grounds. Under Russian law, Griner had 10 days to appeal the sentence.

In the immediate aftermath of her sentencing, Griner’s defense team called it excessive, pointing out that similar cases have received an average sentence of five years, with about a third of them receiving parole.

The eight-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist was convicted and sentenced for cannabis possession on Aug. 4.

Griner claims she inadvertently packed vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her haste to get to Russia in February, and that she had no criminal intent in bringing them. During her trial, she presented written statements that she had been prescribed cannabis to treat pain.

The U.S. government has classified Griner as “wrongfully detained” and is hoping to free her from Russia through a prisoner swap.

On Saturday, the Moscow Times reported that the Russian government is indeed seeking arms dealer Viktor Bout in the exchange, as previously reported.

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