Brittney Griner’s last-ditch appeal to overturn her nine-year jail term for drugs charges has been rejected by a Russian court, according to stunning reports.
The 32-year-old US basketball player was arrested in Moscow back in February after vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage.
Griner had travelled from New York City to Russia during the WNBA off-season to play for Russian women’s basketball team UMMC Ekaterinburg.
The Phoenix Mercury eight-time all-star centre saw her detainment extended three times before her trial started in July.
And Griner pleaded guilty to the charges of smuggling drugs into Russia, but insisted that she had no “intent” to “break the law.”
A Russian court handed down a nine-year prison sentence to the WNBA star in August, with a court near Moscow upholding the decision today.
During her appeal hearing via a video link, Griner insisted that it was an “honest mistake” and it had also been “very, very stressful.”
Griner issued her plea to overturn the decision to an appeals court of three judges, with the basketball player detained in a centre in a town near Moscow.
Griner will now serve out her nine-year jail term in a Russian penal colony.
The White House, which has been unsuccessful in its negotiations with Russia over Griner’s release, slammed the legal proceedings and branded it a “sham.”
US national security advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement that the two-time Olympian has been “wrongfully detained under intolerable circumstances.”
US President Joe Biden, who previously condemned Russia’s detainment of Griner, has called for the Phoenix Mercury player to be released immediately.
According to reports in July, the Biden administration were prepared to offer a prisoner swap to secure the release of Griner and former US marine Paul Whelan.
The US were reportedly ready to return Russian prisoner Viktor Bout, AKA the ‘Merchant of Death,’ as part of their deal with Russia.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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