Russian court denies Brittney Griner’s appeal of 9-year prison sentence
WNBA star Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia for the last 8 months. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Tuesday’s decision was the product of “another sham judicial proceeding" for the WNBA star.
Griner, 32, looked despondent as she appeared at the hearing in the Moscow Regional Court via video conference from the detention center where she has been held since her arrest in February. The athlete is now expected to be moved to a penal colony. Unmuted News' BLKALERTS reported Griner's sentence on August 4th.
Griner’s conviction in August was decried by the United States, which has said the athlete is being wrongfully detained. The denial of her appeal will see hopes for Griner's release shift to the potential for a high-profile prisoner swap.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Tuesday's decision was the product of "another sham judicial proceeding."
"President (Joe) Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately," he said, adding that the Biden administration has in recent weeks "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."
Griner’s attorneys said the decision was “not what we expected” and added that it could take months before the WNBA star is transferred to a penal colony.
“We are very disappointed,” they said. “We still think the punishment is excessive.”
They said Griner’s “biggest fear” is that a prisoner swap will not take place and she could have to serve out the entirety of her sentence in Russia. “She had hopes for today as each month, each day away from her family and friends matters to her,” they said.
The attorneys said they planned to use “all the available legal tools, especially given the harsh and unprecedented nature of her verdict” and would discuss the next steps with Griner.
Griner had been “quite pessimistic about the outcome” of the appeal ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, one of her attorneys, Maria Blagovolina, said Monday.
Many sources have told Unmuted News that the WNBA star had held hope there would be a reduction to her sentence, but did not believe the verdict would be overruled.