Russian court rejects Griner appeal against 9-year sentence

Griner took half within the Moscow Regional Courtroom listening to by way of video name from a penal colony exterior Moscow the place she is imprisoned.

Griner’s 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 was returning to Russia, the place she performed through the U.S. league’s offseason.

Griner admitted she had the canisters in her baggage however testified that she inadvertently packed them in haste and had no legal intent. Her protection crew introduced written statements saying she had been prescribed hashish to deal with ache.

The nine-year sentence was near the utmost of 10 years, and Griner’s lawyers argued after the conviction that the punishment was extreme. They stated in comparable instances defendants have obtained a mean sentence of about 5 years, with a few third of them granted parole.

Before her conviction, the U.S. State Division declared Griner to be “wrongfully detained” — a cost that Russia has sharply rejected.

Reflecting rising strain on the Biden administration to do extra to carry Griner residence, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the weird step of unveiling publicly in July that Washington had made a “substantial proposal” to get Griner residence, together with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage.

Blinken didn’t elaborate, however The Related Press and different information organizations have reported that Washington has supplied to trade Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms supplier who’s serving a 25-year sentence within the U.S. and as soon as earned the nickname the “service provider of demise.”

The White Home stated it has not but obtained a productive response from Russia to the provide.

Russian diplomats have refused to touch upon the U.S. proposal and urged Washington to debate the matter in confidential talks, avoiding public statements.

In September, U.S. President Joe Biden met 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 burdened to the households his “continued dedication to working by all obtainable avenues to carry Brittney and Paul residence safely.”

The U.S. and Russia carried out a prisoner swap in April. Moscow launched U.S. Marines veteran Trevor Reed in trade for the U.S. releasing a Russian pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was convicted in a drug trafficking conspiracy.

Moscow additionally has pushed for the discharge of different Russians in U.S. custody.

Certainly one of them is Alexander Vinnik, who was accused of laundering billions of {dollars} by a bootleg cryptocurrency trade. Vinnik was arrested in Greece in 2017 and extradited to the U.S. in August.

Vinnik’s French lawyer, Frederic Belot, advised Russian newspaper Izvestia final month that his shopper hoped to be a part of a potential swap.

The newspaper speculated that one other potential candidate was Roman Seleznev, the son of a Russian lawmaker. He was sentenced in 2017 to 27 years in jail on costs from a hacking and bank card fraud scheme.

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