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Russian court docket upholds Brittney Griner’s drug smuggling conviction



[Breaking news update at 8:40 a.m. ET]

A decide in Russia upheld the sentence of American basketball star Brittney Griner, solely mitigating her nine-year jail sentence.

[Previous story, published at 8:29 a.m. ET]

Brittney Griner’s legal professionals are interesting her ruling in a Russian court docket on Tuesday, practically three months after the American basketball star was discovered responsible of smuggling medication into the nation and sentenced to 9 years in jail.

Griner’s enchantment is being thought of within the Moscow Regional Courtroom, with the end result anticipated Tuesday after her legal professionals argued that the ruling was unfair and unreasonable below Russian legislation. They urged the court docket to acquit her, arguing that her sentence was disproportionate and the earlier court docket’s ruling was fallacious to counsel that Griner meant to commit the crime.

Protection lawyer Alexander Boykov mentioned: “No lawyer will have the ability to truthfully say that this ruling is in accordance with Russian judicial follow.

Griner, 32, attended the listening to through videoconference from her detention middle – Correctional Colony No. 1 in Novoye Grishino, north of Moscow – talking briefly to verify her title, based on the report. her authorized workforce. It’s unclear if she’s going to make any additional statements throughout the listening to, which started two hours later than scheduled on the request of her lawyer, who didn’t give a purpose. for a brief delay.

In keeping with the legal professionals, Boykov of the Moscow Authorized Heart and Maria Blagovolina, a companion at Rybalkin, the court docket listening to the enchantment may select to uphold Griner’s sentence, course of it and ship it again to the decrease court docket. , or cut back Griner’s jail time period. , Gortsunyan Regulation Agency, Dyakin and Companions.

If the choice of the Khimki metropolis court docket is upheld, “the authorized course of will basically finish,” Boykov mentioned. In the meantime, Griner, a two-time US Olympic gold medalist, is anxious that she must serve the remainder of her sentence in Russia if her enchantment is unsuccessful and if the USA and Russia couldn’t attain an settlement on a prisoner trade, he mentioned.

The US State Division alleges that Griner is being held illegally, and her case has raised issues that she is getting used as a political pawn amid the Russian conflict. towards Ukraine. The Biden administration lately contacted Russia to attempt to safe the discharge of Griner and the arrest of American Paul Whelan, a senior administration official advised CNN final week.

Griner was initially detained at Moscow airport on February 17 – days earlier than Russia started its invasion of Ukraine – when authorities accused her of making an attempt to smuggle lower than a gram of hashish oil in her baggage. me. Griner performed in Russia throughout the WNBA’s season.

Comply with stay updates: Russia’s conflict in Ukraine

The All-Star Heart for the Phoenix Mercury pleaded responsible to medication, telling the court docket throughout the trial that vape containers containing hashish oil have been in her baggage as a result of she had packed her baggage in a rush. .

In court docket on Tuesday, Blagovolina forged doubt on the Russian check of Griner’s alleged drug use, calling the outcomes of that check “suspicious and unconfirmed.” “Continued substance use isn’t appropriate for knowledgeable athlete’s profession,” she added.

Each attorneys had beforehand mentioned they felt Griner’s nine-year jail sentence was excessive, which Blagovolina known as “very extreme for this sort of crime and the quantity of this substance.”

Forward of the listening to, Blagovolina and Boykov known as Griner a “robust individual” with “champion bravery” who, nevertheless, was “severely pressured by being separated from his family members for greater than eight months .”

“She is anxiously awaiting the enchantment listening to,” they added in a written assertion to CNN. “Brittney would not count on a miracle however hopes that the appeals court docket will hear the protection’s arguments and cut back the deadline.”

Whereas Griner’s case labored, US officers individually proposed a possible prisoner swap with Russia, providing to commerce convicted Russian arms seller Viktor Bout for Griner and Whelan. , an American citizen detained by Russia on espionage expenses since 2018. Whelan, who has repeatedly denied the fees, was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in jail in June 2020.

Regardless of the “fairly persistent” tempo of discussions between the US and Russia to safe the discharge of Individuals, the official mentioned the Biden administration has but to obtain a severe response from Russia.

“They didn’t reply. I’d say that they proceed to reply with one thing that they know isn’t possible or out there,” the official mentioned of Russia’s response.

Former Governor Invoice Richardson of New Mexico – whose eponymous middle works on behalf of hostage households and detainees, and who lately traveled to Russia to debate the attainable launch of Griner and Whelan – lately mentioned he was “cautiously optimistic” that the 2 Individuals could possibly be launched.

Richardson, who additionally served because the US ambassador to the United Nations below President Invoice Clinton, mentioned he’s working with each households and dealing with the White Home in direction of their launch. The previous governor performed a job within the launch of Trevor Reed, an American veteran who was detained in Russia for 3 years earlier than his launch in April.

In the meantime, Griner’s spouse Cherelle and their supporters have continued to focus on her case and preserve assist and stress to make sure she is introduced house, beginning the struggle. translate #WeAreBG on social media. After months of making an attempt, Cherelle Griner met with Biden final month, telling CNN that the assembly illustrated the administration’s dedication to bringing his spouse house.

“It was not a gathering the place the President advised me the information I needed to listen to,” Cherelle Griner mentioned. “It isn’t, nevertheless it’s a kind of conferences that is nonetheless necessary, the place… it permits me to have faith in what he is doing proper now.”

As for Griner, she turned 32 final week, celebrating her birthday in a cell on the outskirts of Moscow, her lawyer advised CNN. They spent a number of hours together with her in an effort to “cheer her up” as a lot as attainable, forwarding joyful birthday messages from world wide.

“Thanks to everybody who fought so arduous to get me house,” Griner mentioned in a message shared by her lawyer. “All of the assist and love is unquestionably serving to me.”


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