Griner loses appeal, will serve nine-year sentence in Russian jail

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


U.S. Women’s basketball star Brittney Griner learned her fate on Wednesday when a Russian court rejected her appeal of a  prison sentence handed down earlier this year for drug-related charges. 

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport after cannabis oil, which is banned in Russia, was found in her luggage. The Olympic gold medalist was sentenced on Aug. 4 to nine years in a penal colony on charges of possessing and smuggling drugs. She pleaded guilty to cannabis possession but said she did not intend to break the law.

Griner appeared to be resigned to her fate as prior to the ruling, her lawyers said that she “does not expect miracles” at her appeal hearing on Tuesday.

The WNBA standout participated in Tuesday’s hearing by video link from the detention center where she is being held, with the judges stating that she will be awarded 1.5 days served for the eight months she already served in pre-trial detention. 

Talks remain open on a possible prisoner swap with Russia to secure Griner’s release as well as that of U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, potentially for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer currently serving a 25-year U.S. prison sentence. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Washington was working to free Griner and Whelan and that there had been “active discussions, including in recent days” during Monday’s press briefing.

Following the announcement National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan released a statement, reiterating that the U.S. government found the entire trial to be a “sham” and that Griner should be released immediately.

We are aware of the news out of Russia that Brittney Griner will continue to be wrongfully detained under intolerable circumstances after having to undergo another sham juridical proceeding today. President Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately.

If a prisoner swap agreement is not reached, Griner will carry out the remainder of her sentence – which now calculates to be roughly 8 years – in a Russian jail cell.