Brittney Griner Files Appeal Against Russian Court’s Decision After 9-Year Sentence

A little more than a week after a Russian court sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to 9 years in prison, her team of attorneys have filed an appeal. Find out more about the latest development.

By Kisha Forde Aug 15, 2022 12:07 PMTags
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After WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison on drug charges, her team has filed to appeal the decision.
On Aug. 15, Griner's lawyer Maria Blagovolina told NBC News that the basketball star's defense team had filed the appeal in a statement via the Telegram messaging app. As the outlet noted, the move comes on the heels of news that Russia and the United States will potentially discuss a prisoner swap that would secure Griner's release.
At her hearing on Aug. 4, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison and received a 1 million ruble fine ($16,000) for conscious drug smuggling and possession. A Russian court found Griner guilty of drug possession and smuggling, in addition to finding her guilty of committing the crime deliberately. 
The sentence handed down from a Russian court came more than four months after the Phoenix Mercury star was arrested at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport for allegedly possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.

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Following her sentencing, Griner's attorneys addressed the "unreasonable" ruling.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

"We are very disappointed by the verdict," Griner's legal team shared in a statement to E! News Aug. 4. "As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality. The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea. This contradicts the existing legal practice. Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is absolutely unreasonable. We will certainly file an appeal."

The 31-year-old has been in custody in Russia since her February arrest, which saw her charged with smuggling of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, their precursors, or analogues, and with illegal acquisition, storage, transportation, manufacture, processing of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, or their analogues. 

Griner pled guilty to all charges during her second hearing in early July, telling the court that she had not acted deliberately. 

(NBC News and E! are part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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