Earlier in August, Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years for drug smuggling in Russia. Now it appears her lawyers plan to appeal the sentencing, according to Ivan Nechepurenko from the New York Times.
“Ms. Griner’s legal team has said that the appeal, which was expected, would most likely take up to three months to be adjudicated,” writes Nechepurenko. “Russian officials have said that all legal avenues must be exhausted before a potential exchange can be discussed.”
It’s also noted in the article that Griner’s team filed the appeal notably so that Griner wouldn’t be transferred to a penal colony.
The United States and Russia have been in ongoing talks for the release of Griner. Those talks have highly been centered around the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Despite Russia’s sentencing, President Biden remains persistent in efforts to secure Griner’s freedom.
The former Baylor star was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February. Griner was said to be in possession of cannabis oil in her vape cartridges.
While such a charge wouldn’t hold as much weight nowadays in the U.S., Russia still imposed serious consequences for cannabis and its derivatives.
Griner’s case made it to the national level after the eight-time All-Star wrote Biden a letter asking for the President’s assistance in her freedom. Biden has went on record stating that Griner has been wrongfully detained as part of a political ploy.
As stated, Griner’s lawyers would be more than willing to withdraw the appeal if it means expediting the prisoner swap.
The overall hope, however, is that the appeal will buy Griner more time in the meantime.