MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian courtroom on Monday set Oct. 25 because the date for American basketball star Brittney Griner’s enchantment in opposition to her nine-year jail sentence for drug possession.
Griner, an eight-time all-star heart with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted Aug. 4 after police stated they discovered vape canisters containing hashish oil in her baggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
The Moscow area courtroom stated it’s going to hear her enchantment.
Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her baggage, however testified that she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no legal intent. Her protection workforce introduced written statements that she had been prescribed hashish to deal with ache.
Her February arrest got here at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, simply days earlier than Russia despatched troops into Ukraine. On the time, Griner, acknowledged as one of many biggest gamers in WNBA historical past, was returning to Russia, the place she performed throughout the U.S. league’s offseason.
The nine-year sentence was near the utmost of 10 years, and Griner’s attorneys argued after the conviction that the punishment was extreme. They stated in related circumstances defendants have obtained a median sentence of about 5 years, with a few third of them granted parole.
Earlier than her conviction, the U.S. State Division declared Griner to be “wrongfully detained” — a cost that Russia has sharply rejected.
Reflecting the rising strain on the Biden administration to do extra to deliver Griner residence, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the bizarre step of unveiling publicly in July that Washington had made a “substantial proposal” to get Griner residence, together with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage.
Blinken didn’t elaborate, however The Related Press and different information organizations have reported that Washington has provided to change Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms supplier who’s serving a 25-year sentence within the U.S. and as soon as earned the nickname the “service provider of loss of life.”
The White Home stated it has not but obtained a productive response from Russia to the provide.
Russian diplomats have refused to touch upon the U.S. proposal and urged Washington to debate the matter in confidential talks, avoiding public statements.
U.S. President Joe Biden met final month with Cherelle Griner, the spouse of Brittney Griner, in addition to the participant’s agent, Lindsay Colas. Biden additionally sat down individually with Elizabeth Whelan, Paul Whelan’s sister.
The White Home stated after the conferences that the president careworn to the households his “continued dedication to working by means of all accessible avenues to deliver Brittney and Paul residence safely.”
The Biden administration carried out a prisoner swap in April, with Moscow releasing Marine veteran Trevor Reed in change for the U.S. releasing a Russian pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, convicted in a drug trafficking conspiracy.
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