MOSCOW- The lawyers of the American basketball player Brittney Griner announced on Monday that they have appealed the sentence of nine years in prison for drug possession and trafficking handed down against their client by the Russian Justice.
“The team defending Brittney Grinner has appealed the Khimki court ruling,” said a statement released Monday by Marina Blaglovólina and Alexandr Boikov, attorneys for the WNBA star.
Griner, world and Olympic champion with her country, was sentenced to nine years in prison on August 4 by the Khimki court, a satellite city of Moscow.
Monday was the deadline for Griner to contest the verdict. Maria Blagovolina, a partner at law firm Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Partners, told Reuters the appeal was filed but declined to comment further.
The American, 2.06 meters tall and who was a member of the Russian UMMC team in Yekaterinburg at the time of her arrest, pleaded guilty to introducing cannabis oil into Russian territory, although she argued that she did not do so with malicious intent.
“I made an honest mistake and I hope his sentence does not end my life,” Griner told the court in Khimki, near Moscow, at his sentencing.
His lawyers questioned the cannabis samples taken by the Russian police as evidence, after his arrest on February 17 at the Moscow airport, where he arrived on a flight from New York.
The president of the United States, Joe Biden, has demanded that Russia release the 31-year-old basketball player “immediately” after calling the sentence “unacceptable”.
For his part, the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, proposed to his Russian colleague, Sergey Lavrov, the exchange of Griner and Paul Whelan, a former Marine sentenced to 16 years for espionage, for the “merchant of death”, Victor But, who is serving a 25-year sentence in an American prison.
Moscow has declared that the negotiations are under way, but has urged Washington to take into account the interests of the other party and not to speculate on “the fate of specific people.”