Brittney Griner Appeals Conviction in Russian Drug Case

A lawyer for American basketball star Britney Griner said Monday that she has filed an appeal against her conviction by a Russian court in a drug smuggling case that has turned into a diplomatic stalemate.

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

It also comes at a time when the United States and Russia are grappling with discussions over a possible prisoner swap involving Griner and Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States. I have.

US officials are also calling for the release of US citizen Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges.

new york times Griner’s “legal team said the expected appeal would likely take up to three months to be decided,” reporting, adding that “Russian authorities are asking all He said he would have to use all legal means.” ”

Secretary of State Antony Brinken said late last month that the US offer to release Bout in exchange for Griner and Whelan represented a “substantial offer”, but Russian officials have so far resisted the deal. is doing.

According to a CNN report Alexander Dartyev, head of the North American Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, confirmed the prisoners’ negotiations over the weekend.

“This very sensitive issue of the exchange of convicted Russian and U.S. citizens is being discussed through channels defined by the President. Since then, we have been calling for the release of Viktor Bout.The details should be left to the experts and are based on the principle of ‘do no harm,'” Dartyev told Russian state media TASS. As quoted by CNN.

Griner, who pleaded guilty to drug charges but insisted he did not intend to break the law, was convicted on August 4. Decade. The judge presiding over the case sentenced him to nine years in prison.

Griner was arrested on February 17 while returning to Russia to play for UMMC Yekaterinburg, the Russian team he has been with in the WNBA’s offseason since 2014.

Airport officials found cannabis oil in her luggage, leading to a lengthy detention, which has become another source of tension between the United States and Russia.

In May, the US State Department reclassified Griner as “wrongfully detained.”

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

“This is unacceptable. We urge 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 Britney Griner was sentenced to prison. This is a reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is unlawfully detaining Britney,” he added. .

“My administration will continue to work vigorously and will pursue all means to bring Britney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible,” the president continued.

At a hearing last month, Griner testified that during interrogation, a language interpreter provided by Russian authorities provided an incomplete translation of her statements and insufficient explanation of her rights.

according to new york times, Griner’s lawyers argued on appeal that the Khimki court disregarded “serious procedural violations during detention, extraction of physical evidence, arrest and investigation.” ”

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