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 centre with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medallist, 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 can hear her enchantment.
Griner admitted she had the canisters in her baggage however testified she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no felony intent. Her defence workforce offered written statements 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 through the U.S. league’s low season.
The nine-year sentence was near the utmost of 10 years, and Griner’s legal professionals argued after the conviction that the punishment was extreme. They stated in related instances defendants have obtained a mean 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.
U.S. reportedly supplied prisoner swap
Reflecting the rising strain on the Biden administration to do extra to convey Griner dwelling, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the bizarre step of showing publicly in July that Washington had made a “substantial proposal” to get Griner dwelling, together with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage.
Blinken did not elaborate, however The Related Press and different information organizations have reported Washington has supplied to change Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms seller 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 supply.
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 harassed to the households his “continued dedication to working by means of all out there avenues to convey Brittney and Paul dwelling 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.