WNBA star Brittney Griner has been ordered by Russian government authorities to serve her full 9 years prison sentence after her appeal was denied Tuesday morning. This is following Brittney Griner being caught with marijuana vaping cartridges in her luggage at a Russian airport earlier this year. Griner was arrested and charged with drug smuggling. She eventually pled guilty to the charges and the judge sentenced her to 9 years of imprisonment in Russia.

The WNBA players only option for release is by the U.S. negotiating her freedom. This would involve US officials swapping Brittney Griner for another German citizen imprisoned in the United States.

The New York Times wrote a very detailed article regarding Brittney Griner’s appeal denial .

Via NYT:

A Russian court on Tuesday upheld the
American basketball star Brittney Griner’s
sentence on drug smuggling charges, clearing
the way for her to serve nine years in a penal
colony, unless the U.S. government can
negotiate a deal for her release.

Ms. Griner’s lawyers said before the hearing
on Tuesday that she did “not expect any
miracles to happen,” but that she was hopeful
that the three-judge panel of the appeals court
in Krasnogorsk, near Moscow, would reduce
her sentence.

While the court’s decision means Ms. Griner
will begin serving her sentence soon, it was
not immediately clear if her legal options were
exhausted. There are two higher courts above
the appellate division, culminating in the
Supreme Court, but Ms. Griner’s lawyers have
yet to confirm whether they will take the case
any further.

Higher courts in Russia also are not known for
overturning verdicts, especially in a case
involving foreign policy and the interests of
the Kremlin.

President Biden’s national security adviser,
Jake Sullivan, denounced the ruling as
“another sham judicial proceeding” and said
in a statement that Ms. Griner “should be
released immediately!”

The basketball star, 31, did not appear in court
on Tuesday and participated in the
proceedings via a video link from the
detention center where she has been held
since her arrest in February.

“Brittney is a very strong person and has a
champion’s character,” the lawyers said in
their statement on Monday. “She of course has
her highs and lows as she is severely stressed
being separated from her loved ones for over
eight months.”

Since she was arrested at a Moscow airport
days before Russia invaded Ukraine, MIs.
Griner’s fate has become entangled in the
increasingly acrimonious relations between
Moscow and Washington. As the Biden
administration enforces harsh sanctions
against President Vladimir V. Putin’s
government as punishment for the invasion,
American officials have accused Russia of
using Ms. Griner and other U.S. citizens in
Russian custody as bargaining chips.

In July, the Biden administration offered a
prisoner swap involving Ms. Griner, but
Russian officials have said it was premature to
discuss a deal while her case was underway.
One person briefed on the talks said at the
time that the United States had proposed
exchanging Ms. Griner along with Paul
Whelan, a former Marine held since
December 2018 – for Viktor Bout, a Russian
arms dealer serving a 25-year federal prison
sentence for charges including conspiring to
kill Americans.


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