Brittney Griner's defense team has appealed her conviction for narcotics possession and trafficking on Monday (August 15) amid stalled prisoner swap talks between the United States and Russia, per Reuters.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist was sentenced to nine years inside a penal colony on August 4. Maria Blagovolina, partner at Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Partners law firm, vowed to appeal hours after the decision was handed down. She confirmed the appeal's filing to Reuters, but provided no further comment.
Reporters learned the appeal will focus on the alleged violations during the investigation. Earlier this month, Blagovolina says the appeals process will take months, and there's no word on how soon an appeal could be heard.
"We demand to overturn the verdict passed by the Khimki court and impose a new sentence," Alexander Boikov, a lawyer at Moscow Legal Center who represented Griner in court, told Reuters.
Griner, 31, was arrested on February 17 after officials found medical cannabis-infused vape cartridges inside her luggage at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. She pleaded guilty to the charges, saying she didn't intend to violate any laws in the country.
"I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling, that it doesn't end my life here," she told the court during her sentencing.
Griner's arrest and subsequent conviction have thrust the WNBA player to the forefront of political tension between the U.S. and Russia. President Joe Biden offered convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner and Paul Whelan, another imprisoned American, but talks have been on hold.
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