A Russian court on Tuesday upheld the nine-year sentence for WNBA star Brittney Griner, Reuters reports. Griner was sentenced in August for possession of two cannabis vape cartridges that were allegedly discovered in her luggage by Russian customs officials in February as she was traveling to the country to play for Russia during the WNBA winter offseason.
Griner will be sent to a penal colony, but her lawyers indicated it would be some time before that move would be completed. They indicated they had not yet decided whether they would launch another appeal.
In a statement prior to the decision of the appeals court, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan described the judicial proceeding as a “sham.”
“President [Joe] Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately. In recent weeks, the Biden-Harris Administration has continued to engage with Russia through every available channel and make every effort to bring home Brittney as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia, including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan.” — Sullivan in a statement
Sullivan added that the administration “remains in regular touch with representatives of the families” and “continues to admire their courage in the face of these unimaginable circumstances.”
Griner and her lawyers had asked the appeals court for acquittal or at least a reduction in her sentence, which they called disproportionate to the offense and at odds with Russian judicial practice.
The presiding judge took no more than 30 minutes to return with the decision to uphold the original verdict with “no changes,” the report says.
Alexander Boykov, one of her lawyers, said “The severity and cruelty of the sentence applied to Griner shocks people around the world.”
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