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Russian court docket will hear Brittney Griner’s attraction Tuesday as WNBA star tries to trim 9-year sentence

US’ Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (NBA) basketball participant Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with unlawful possession of hashish, stands inside a defendants’ cage earlier than a court docket listening to in Khimki exterior Moscow, on August 4, 2022. 

Evgenia Novozhenina | AFP | Getty Photos

WASHINGTON — A Russian court docket will hear WNBA star Brittney Griner’s attraction on Tuesday after the American athlete was convicted on drug expenses earlier this 12 months.

Griner’s legal professionals advised NBC Information earlier than the listening to that the two-time Olympic gold medalist is “fairly pessimistic” that the decide will overrule the court docket’s authentic verdict.

“She hopes there can be some discount in her sentence,” Maria Blagovolina, Griner’s lawyer, advised Andrea Mitchell of NBC Information, including the 32-year-old athlete will seem in court docket by way of video convention.

Griner, who performs skilled basketball in Russia throughout the WNBA offseason, was arrested in February after Russian authorities discovered vape canisters containing hashish oil in her baggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Her legal professionals mentioned Griner solely makes use of hashish medically and unintentionally packed the hashish canisters in her suitcase as a result of the skilled athlete was in a rush.

Below Russian legislation, the cost carried a penalty of as much as 10 years in jail. In August, Griner was discovered responsible and sentenced to 9 years. She was additionally ordered to pay 1 million rubles, roughly $16,301.

Brittney Griner convicted in Russian court, sentenced to nine years in prison

The court docket’s choice got here because the Biden administration scrambled to safe her launch.

Every week earlier than the decision, the Biden administration confirmed it made a proposal to the Russian authorities for the discharge of Griner and the previous U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.

‘I am terrified I is likely to be right here endlessly’

US WNBA basketball celebrity Brittney Griner stands inside a defendants’ cage earlier than a listening to on the Khimki Courtroom, exterior Moscow on July 26, 2022. 

Alexander Zemlianichenko | AFP | Getty Photos

Days earlier than she pleaded responsible final month, Griner wrote a letter to President Joe Biden asking for his direct assist together with her case.

“I sit right here in a Russian jail, alone with my ideas and with out the safety of my spouse, household, buddies, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I am terrified I is likely to be right here endlessly,” the skilled athlete wrote in a July 5 letter.

“I understand you’re coping with a lot, however please remember about me and … different American detainees. Please do all you may to convey us house,” Griner wrote.

After receiving the letter, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris known as the WNBA star’s spouse, Cherelle Griner. Biden additionally wrote a response to Griner that U.S. diplomats hand-delivered in Moscow.

Biden reassured her spouse that he’s working to safe Griner’s launch as quickly as doable, in line with a White Home readout of the decision. He additionally advised Cherelle Griner that he’s working to launch Whelan, who’s serving a 16-year sentence in Russia.

Whelan was arrested in 2018 on expenses of performing as a spy for the US. On the time he was arrested, Whelan was visiting Russia to attend a marriage, in line with his brother, David Whelan. 

Griner’s arrest and subsequent detention got here because the West issued repeated warnings to Russian President Vladimir Putin to attract down the a whole lot of hundreds of troops staged alongside Ukraine’s border. Within the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbor, the U.S. and its allies unleashed a slew of punishing sanctions on Moscow and constructed up a multibillion-dollar struggle chest for Kyiv.

Two months into the struggle, Russia agreed to launch former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed in a prisoner alternate.

Reed was accused of assaulting a Russian police officer and detained by authorities there in 2019. He was later sentenced to 9 years in a Russian jail. Reed and his household have maintained his innocence, and the U.S. authorities described him as unjustly imprisoned.

For Reed’s launch, Biden agreed to free Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal jail sentence for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.

Russia says it's ready to discuss a prisoner swap for Brittney Griner

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