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Brittney Griner’s attorneys appeal Russian prison sentence

Sportsnaut
May 20, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; WNBA MVP candidate and All Stars player Brittney Griner during media day before she enters her eighth season with Phoenix Mercury. Mandatory Credit: Nick Oza/The Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK
Credit: The Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK

Brittney Griner’s attorneys are appealing the WNBA star’s nine-year prison sentence in Russia, news agencies reported Monday.

The Phoenix Mercury center received the sentence on Aug. 4 after being found guilty of drug smuggling and possession charges, six months after her airport arrest with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.

Russian news services quoted attorney Maria Blagovolina as saying the appeal had been filed. Under Russian law, the defense team had 10 days to do so after the sentencing. Grounds for the appeal were not immediately clear.

Griner’s defense team said after her conviction that the sentencing was excessive. Defendants in similar cases received an average sentence of five years and about one-third were granted parole, they argued.

Griner admitted to bringing a small amount of hashish oil into the country in mid-February as she returned to her Russian basketball team. She said she packed the drug, which was medically prescribed for pain, by mistake and didn’t try to break Russian laws.

Diplomats for Russia and the United States have been discussing a prisoner swap to bring Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan home in exchange for the release of convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, per multiple reports.

–Field Level Media