A Russian Court on Monday set a date of Oct. 25 for the appeal of American WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is looking at serving a nine year prison sentence over charges of drug possession.
According to Fox News, Griner, who is an eight-time all-star center for the Phoenix Mercury, along with being a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted on Aug. 4 after local authorities stated they discovered vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Sheremetyevo Airport located in Moscow.
The report revealed that the Moscow region-court stated it would hear her appeal of the sentence.
“Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage, but testified that she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent. Her defense team presented written statements that she had been prescribed cannabis to treat pain,” the report stated.
“Her February arrest came at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At the time, Griner, recognized as one of the greatest players in WNBA history, was returning to Russia, where she played during the U.S. league’s offseason,” Fox News continued.
Griner’s legal team has argued that the nine-year sentence, which is close to the ten-year maximum penalty, is excessive. They also went on to say that defendants in similar cases received an average sentence of five years, with almost a third of those individuals granted parole.
Just before Griner’s conviction, the State Department declared Griner to be “wrongfully detained,” which is a charge Russia has rejected.
“Reflecting the growing pressure on the Biden administration to do more to bring Griner home, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of revealing publicly in July that Washington had made a ‘substantial proposal’ to get Griner home, along with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage,” the Fox News report said.
Blinken, however, did not provide further elaboration, but the Associated Press, along with other news organizations have reported that Washington has made the offer to exchange Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is currently serving 25 years here in the U.S. for Griner. Keep in mind this guy is also known by the nickname “merchant of death.”
It hardly seems like a good idea to exchange someone who is a terrorist for Griner, given the fact that if he resumes his activities, and he most certainly will, that trade would result in bloodshed. We should never allow terrorists to walk free. You start down that road and organizations all over the world will start taking Americans hostage in order to get their friends released from prison. That will endanger citizens who are abroad.
“The Biden administration carried out a prisoner swap in April, with Moscow releasing Marine veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for the U.S. releasing a Russian pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, convicted in a drug trafficking conspiracy,” Fox News concluded.
Griner was often critical of America and our justice system when she was stateside, but I bet she wishes she were here now.