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Lawyers Appeal Brittney Griner’s Russian Prison Sentence

MOSCOW (AP) Lawyers for American basketball star Brittney Griner on Monday filed an appeal against her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession, Russian news agencies reported Monday.

Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted on Aug. 4. She was arrested in February at Moscows Sheremetyevo Airport after vape canisters containing cannabis oil were within her luggage.

Griner played for a womens basketball team in Yekaterinburg through the WNBA offseason.

Lawyer Maria Blagovolina was quoted by Russian news agencies on Monday as saying the appeal was filed, however the grounds of the appeal werent immediately clear.

Blagovolina and co-counsel Alexander Boykov said following the conviction that the sentence was excessive and that in similar cases defendants have obtained the average sentence around five years, with in regards to a third of these granted parole.

Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage, but said she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent. Her defense team presented written statements that she have been prescribed cannabis to take care of pain.

Before her conviction, the U.S. STATE DEPT. declared Griner to be wrongfully detained.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of revealing publicly in July that the U.S. had made a considerable proposal to obtain Griner home home, alongside Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage.

Blinken didnt elaborate, however the Associated Press along with other news organizations have reported that Washington has wanted to free Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who’s serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. as soon as earned the nickname the Merchant of Death.

On Sunday, a senior Russian diplomat said exchange talks have already been conducted.

This quite sensitive problem of the swap of convicted Russian and U.S. citizens has been discussed through the channels defined by our presidents, Alexander Darchiev, head of the Foreign Ministrys THE UNITED STATES department, told state news agency Tass. They are, indeed, being discussed. The Russian side is definitely seeking the release of Viktor Bout. The facts ought to be left to professionals, proceeding from the usually do not harm principle.

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