Brittney Griner Appeals Her Sentence

Her lawyers in Russia make move amid talks on a possible prisoner swap
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2022 2:16 AM CDT
Updated Aug 15, 2022 5:48 AM CDT
Brittney Griner Is 'Quite Shocked'
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a Russian courtroom on Aug. 4.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

(Updated to reflect her appeal.) Lawyers for Brittney Griner have formally appealed her nine-year sentence for drug smuggling in Russia, reports CNN. The WNBA's star's legal team has said the sentence was unusually harsh given the relatively small amount of drugs involved—cannabis oil in vape cartridges. Griner was convicted on Aug. 4 after being arrested in February. There was no immediate word on when the court appeal will take place. Meanwhile, negotiations for a prisoner swap have begun, per the AP. Our story from Aug. 4 follows:

Brittney Griner's lawyers say her 9-year sentence for drug possession, close to Russia's maximum sentence of 10 years for the crime, was almost double what they'd been expecting. "She's devastated. She is very upset and she's honestly quite shocked," one of them said during an interview with People. The attorney says this type of criminal court typically hands out five-and-a-half or six-year sentences, "not so severe" as this one, leaving Griner's defense team "very much surprised." During the sentencing hearing, one of Griner's lawyers told the court Griner had "won over" jail guards and her fellow inmates during her time behind bars in Russia, and that they often reassured her, "Brittney, everything will be OK," Jezebel reports.

The 31-year-old WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist has permission to speak with her family and friends, but has not done so since the sentence came down; she hopes to talk to them next week, her lawyers say. Also next week, the defense team will be filing an appeal; the appeal process, however, could take more than three months, they say. Among those not shedding any tears for Griner are certain prominent right-wingers, whom Rolling Stone describes as "gloating" over the situation. (President Biden says the sentence is "unacceptable.")

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