Brittney Griner’s appeal of her 9-year prison term is rejected by a Russian court.

On Tuesday, a Russian court rejected Brittney Griner’s appeal and maintained her nine-year sentence to prison for drug offenses.

Griner, 32, appeared by video conference from the detention facility where she has been kept since her arrest in February, and she wore a dejected expression as she attended the hearing in the Moscow Regional Court. The athlete will likely soon be transferred to a prison colony.

The United States has criticized Griner’s conviction from August and claims the athlete is being kept illegally. Hopes for Griner’s release will shift to the possibility of a high-profile prisoner swap if her appeal is denied.

The judgment made on Tuesday, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan, was the result of “yet another phony legal proceeding.”

He added that the Biden administration has recently ‘continued to engage with Russia through every available channel and make every effort to bring home Brittney as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia, including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan.’ “President (Joe) Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately,” he said.

The WNBA star’s transportation to a jail colony could take months, according to Griner’s attorneys, who also claimed that the ruling was “not what we expected.”

They declared, “We are quite disappointed.” “We continue to believe the penalty is excessive.”

According to them, Griner’s “greatest concern” is that there won’t be a prisoner swap and she’ll have to complete her term in Russia. According to them, “She had hopes for today since each month and each day she spent away from her family and friends mattered to her.”

Given the severe and unusual nature of Griner’s verdict, the attorneys stated that they intended to employ “all the available legal tools” and that they would talk to Griner about the next course of action.

Before the hearing on Tuesday, Griner had shown “quite pessimism about the outcome” of the appeal, according to one of her attorneys, Maria Blagovolina.

Blagovolina stated on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” that the WNBA star had held out hope that her sentence would be reduced but did not think the decision would be overturned.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold winner who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, received a nine-year prison sentence in August for drug-related offenses.
In February, she was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after Russian investigators claimed to have discovered vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

In July, Griner entered a guilty plea, but she claimed it was an accident, that she had mistakenly carried them to Russia, and that she had rapidly packed for a travel. Most of the United States has legalized medical cannabis, which is prohibited in Russia.

Griner had traveled to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg, a team in the Russian Premier League for women, as she had done every year since 2014.

Following Griner’s sentencing in August, her attorneys filed an appeal. Brittney Griner is being held captive, according to Brittney Griner’s wife Cherelle.

Griner stated in a statement read aloud in court on Tuesday that she “did not want to do this,” but that she understood the accusations made against her. She expressed her hope that the fact that she “did plead guilty” in the case would be considered.

The athlete expressed her hope that the judge will modify her sentence, calling her time in jail “stressful” and “traumatic.”

For the release of Griner and another American, Paul Whelan, a corporate executive who has been held in Russia since 2018, the United States has proposed a prisoner exchange, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation. According to the sources, as part of the agreement, the United States will free jailed Russian arms trader Viktor Bout.

Russian drug trafficker Konstantin Yaroshenko, who had been given a 20-year prison sentence, was exchanged for American prisoner Trevor Reed in April.

In 2020, Reed, a former Marine, was given a nine-year prison term in Russia after the country’s officials said he attacked a police officer there after a night of drinking. Reed has upheld his innocence, according to his family.