Brittney Griner Appeals Conviction in Russian Drug Case

The WNBA star Brittney Griner was found guilty earlier this month.
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Lawyers for the American basketball star Brittney Griner said Monday that they have filed an appeal of her guilty verdict by a Russian court in a drug smuggling case that has turned into a diplomatic standoff.

The appeal comes nearly two weeks after Griner was found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison on charges stemming from her February arrest in a Moscow airport.

It also comes at a time when the United States and Russia are engaged in discussions regarding a potential prisoner swap involving Griner and Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States.

U.S. officials have also sought the release of Paul Whelan, an American citizen who has been detained in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges, in such an exchange.

The New York Times reported that Griner’s “legal team has said that the appeal, which was expected, would most likely take up to three months to be adjudicated,” and that “Russian officials have said that all legal avenues must be exhausted before a potential exchange can be discussed.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said late last month that the United States’ offer to release Bout in exchange for Griner and Whelan represented a “substantial proposal,” but Russian officials have so far balked at the arrangement.

As reported by CNN and others, Alexander Darchiev, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s North American Department director, confirmed the prisoner negotiations over the weekend.

“This quite sensitive issue of the swap of convicted Russian and US citizens is being discussed through the channels defined by our Presidents. These individuals are, indeed, being discussed. The Russian side has long been seeking the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to professionals, proceeding from the ‘do not harm’ principle,” Darchiev told Russian state media TASS, as quoted by CNN.

Griner, who pleaded guilty to the drug charges but insisted she did not intend to break the law, was convicted on August 4. Prosecutors had sought a nine-and-a-half year prison sentence––only slightly lower than the maximum sentence of 10 years. The judge presiding over the case handed down a nine year sentence.

Griner was arrested on February 17 while traveling back to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg, a Russian team for whom she has suited up during the WNBA’s offseason since 2014.

Authorities at the airport found cannabis oil in her luggage, leading to a prolonged detention that has become another source of tension between the United States and Russia.

In May, the U.S. Department of State reclassified Griner as “wrongfully detained.”

President Joe Biden denounced Griner’s guilty verdict and conviction earlier this month, and vowed to bring her home.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” Biden said in a statement.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” he added.

“My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible,” the president continued.

At a hearing last month, Griner testified that the language interpreter provided by Russian authorities during her questioning provided incomplete translations of what she said, and that she was never provided a sufficient explanation of her rights.

According to The New York Times, Griner’s “defense team argued in the appeal that the Khimki court had ignored ‘serious procedural violations during detention, extraction of physical evidence, arrest and investigation.’”

  1. Damn shame high times is also a leftist rag…quoting The Communist News Network… the biggest fake news media outlet. SHAME ON YOU.

  2. It would be so great if he lost his appeal, and just for kicks, they add another 5 years to his sentence. Please Russia, make it happen!!

  3. She’s an absolute idiot. Like what is there to appeal? She was caught red-handed. Time to show some accountability for your bad mistake. There’s nobody to blame but yourself.

  4. I’m looking forward to the day when this entitled buffoon will be out of the headlines forever. Hopefully after she loses her appeal we won’t have to hear about her anymore.

          1. Once there was a time when those found guilty of treason were drawn and quartered. Bring in the horses.

  5. Fuck her. She’s not going to find a cure for cancer anyway. Basically, no loss to mankind. In other words, she’s a waste of oxygen. Give her life without parole.

  6. You motherfuckers are horrible. I think a fair deal would be if they put Brittney to work in Putin’s palace. She could do laundry, peel potatoes, make beds, clean toilets, give Vladimir massages (happy endings included), pick beets in the Presidential garden, harvest cotton, mop floors etc. This would be more than fair. Nine years would fly by. To wish death on her is totally warped.

    1. Putiin’s Palace? Sounds more like Putin’s Plantation. But it’s not really a bad idea though…much better than prison, except for the happy endings thingy. That’s simply taking her job description a bit too far. Unless it was mutually consensual of course, then you go girl.

  7. As she sits in her cell and contemplates her pathetic life, I wonder if she’s still hating on America? At least she has some sweet Russian pussy to dive into. Yum.

  8. Supposedly congressmen, senators and even Biden are doing everything in their power to free Brittney. They couldn’t give two shits about Griner and it’s become painfully obvious that she’s going to serve out her full 9 year sentence. People need to remember that politicians are 97% all talk-no action. She’s of absolute no importance to any of them. They laugh at her behind closed doors. The butt of back room jokes.

  9. Too much hate for Brittney. The problem is that she got too cocky, too nonchalant and too comfortable travelling to Russia….”no problem, they never check my bag. I’ve landed here 100 times. And hey, I’m Brittney Griner.” Sadly she got caught and has to think about her carelessness every single day for nine years. Never drop your guard people.

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