Brittney Griner’s legal team appeals drug conviction in Russia

The defense of Brittney Griner, the American basketball star sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia on drug charges, appealed her conviction for drug possession and trafficking on Monday.

Griner was sentenced on August 4 in a verdict that US President Joe Biden called “unacceptable.” Washington says she was wrongfully detained and offered to trade her for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year sentence in the United States.

Monday was the deadline for Griner to contest the verdict. Maria Blagovolina, a partner at law firm Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Partners, told Reuters the appeal was filed, but she declined to comment further.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who had played for a Russian club, was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on February 17 after cannabis vape cartridges were found in her luggage.

He pleaded guilty to the charges but said he had not meant to break the law. “I made an honest mistake and I hope his sentence will not end my life,” Griner told the court in Khimki, near Moscow, at his sentencing.

It was unclear when an appeal could be heard.

“We demand that the verdict handed down by the Khimki court be annulled and a new sentence be imposed,” Alexander Boykov, a lawyer at the Moscow Law Center who represented Griner in court, told Reuters.

According to him, the appeal will be based mainly on alleged violations in the course of the investigation. The defense argued in court that some of her case files were redacted without being translated for her into English.

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