Brittney Griner’s legal team has filed an appeal against a Russian court’s verdict sentencing the WNBA star to nine years in prison for smuggling drugs into Russia, Griner’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina told CNN on Monday.
The US State Department maintains Griner is wrongfully detained, and her case has raised concerns she is being used as a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine. US officials have offered a potential prisoner swap with Russia to try to bring her home safely.
Griner, 31, was detained in February for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. The two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist pleaded guilty to drug charges and said she accidentally packed the drugs while in a hurry.
The nine-year sentence, along with a fine of about $16,400, was issued August 4 by Khimki city court Judge Anna Sotnikova, who said the court took into account Griner’s partial admission of guilt, remorse for the deed, state of health and charitable activities.