Brittney Griner, female basketball star who was found guilty of drug possession and smuggling and
given a nine-year prison sentence, has lost her appeal to a Russian court. According to the BBC, she will
serve her sentence in a penal colony, but it is unknown when that will begin or whether she has any
legal options left to challenge the verdict. In February, Griner was detained as she boarded a flight from
Russia to the United States. Her luggage contained less than one gram of cannabis oil cartridges,
according to an officer at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. During her trial, American doctors signed
affidavits stating that Griner had been prescribed the oils for pain medication. Griner and her defense
team have maintained that she brought them into Russia by mistake.
Griners treatment has been condemned by numerous observers and advocates, and her arrest and trial
have attracted significant global attention. Jake Sullivan, the White House’s National Security Advisor,
characterized the appeal’s denial as a “sham judicial proceeding” in response to the decision. The United
States has pursued a prisoner swap with Russia, offering Griner and Paul Whelan, a U.S. marine
convicted of espionage in Russia and serving a 16-year sentence, in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian
According to Sullivan, the Biden administration “has continued to engage with Russia through every
available channel and make every effort to bring Brittney home as well as to support and advocate for
other Americans detained in Russia, including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan.”
Griner repeated her apology for her “honest mistake” during her appeal hearing. Griner testified to the
court via video link, “I really hope the court will adjust this sentence because it has been very very
stressful and very traumatic.”
Yahoo! obtained a statement In the news, Griner’s attorneys, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov,
emphasized the impact the trial has had on her while also maintaining hope for a prisoner exchange.
They stated, “Brittney possesses the character of a champion and is extremely mentally
tough.” However, she naturally experiences ups and downs because she is experiencing an increase in
stress and has been cut off from her loved ones.