Brittney Griner appeals drug conviction as Russia, US exchange prisoners

U.S. WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives for a hearing at Khimki Court outside Moscow on July 27, 2022.

Kirill Kudryavtsev | AFP | beautiful pictures

WNBA’s star Brittney GrinerHer defense team has filed an appeal against her conviction on drug charges in Russia, nearly two weeks after she was arrested. sentenced to 9 years in prison by a Moscow court.

Her lawyer Maria Blagovolina said on Monday the defense team had filed an appeal, in a statement via the messaging app Telegram. The move, much expected, comes as Russia and the US discuss a potential prisoner swap to secure Griner’s release.

American basketball player who has arrested at Moscow airport on February 17 after authorities said they found a vape box laced with marijuana in her luggage.

Griner, 31, pleaded guilty, but said she made an “honest mistake” by entering Russia with cannabis oil, which is illegal to enter the country, after she hastily packed it for his flight.

She was sentenced on April 4 to 9 years in prison in Russia after being found guilty of drug possession and smuggling, after making an emotional final plea for clemency.

The US government maintains that Griner was wrongfully detained.

It suggested swap her and Paul Whelan, a company executive who has been detained in Russia since 2018, to Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the US, according to two sources close to the matter. However, Russia showed no sign of accepting the offer and criticized Washington’s decision to make it public in an attempt to ramp up pressure for a deal.

Russia said after Griner sentencing, it was ready for discussion However, the possibility of prisoner swap.

Over the weekend, a senior Russian diplomat confirmed that the names were mentioned in bilateral talks.

“The discussion on the very sensitive topic of the exchange of imprisoned Russian and American citizens is taking place within the channels identified by our presidents,” said Alexander Darchiev, director of the North’s Foreign Ministry. America of Russia, said. in an interview with the state news agency TASS. He added: ‘The names mentioned are indeed under consideration. “

Darchiev said Moscow “has long sought the release of Viktor Bout,” but said: “The details should be left to experts, based on the principle of ‘do no harm’.”

Darchiev credits the approach for helping to facilitate the “quick and successful exchange” of former US Marines. Trevor Reedwho was convicted in Russia of assaulting a police officer, against Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko.

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