Brittney Griner’s Lawyers Appeal Her Prison Sentence

The defense lawyers for jailed U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to serve nine years in a Russian penal colony on drug smuggling charges, say they have filed an appeal against her sentence.

It was not known when the appeal would be heard.

Griner was convicted August 4, about six months after she was arrested in Russia for carrying vaping materials containing hashish oil in her luggage. Griner has admitted carrying the materials but said she had no criminal intent.

The United States says the two-time Olympic gold medalist, who had played in Russia for the past several years, was wrongfully detained.

There has been widespread speculation that Griner, along with Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine convicted in Russia on espionage charges, could be released in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer being held in the U.S.

Late last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a telephone conversation with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, urging him to accept a U.S. proposal to gain Griner and Whelan’s release.

Russia denies Griner’s arrest and conviction are politically motivated.

The talks come amid tension over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Some information for this story comes from the Associated Press, AFP and Reuters.