WNBA

Russian Court Sets Brittney Griner Appeal Date For Oct. 25

Oct 3, 2022, 2:45 PM
Brittney Griner, WNBA, Russia, Phoenix Mercury...
WNBA star Brittney Griner is detained in Russia as the 2022 season gets underway for the Phoenix Mercury. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court on Monday set Oct. 25 as the date for American basketball star Brittney Griner’s appeal against her nine-year prison sentence for drug possession.

Griner, an eight-time all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

The Moscow region court said it will hear her appeal.

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.

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.

The nine-year sentence was close to the maximum of 10 years, and Griner’s lawyers argued after the conviction that the punishment was excessive. They said in similar cases defendants have received an average sentence of about five years, with about a third of them granted parole.

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

Blinken didn’t elaborate, but The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to exchange Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. and once earned the nickname the “merchant of death.”

The White House said it has not yet received a productive response from Russia to the offer.

Russian diplomats have refused to comment on the U.S. proposal and urged Washington to discuss the matter in confidential talks, avoiding public statements.

U.S. President Joe Biden met last month with Cherelle Griner, the wife of Brittney Griner, as well as the player’s agent, Lindsay Colas. Biden also sat down separately with Elizabeth Whelan, Paul Whelan’s sister.

The White House said after the meetings that the president stressed to the families his “continued commitment to working through all available avenues to bring Brittney and Paul home safely.”

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.

WNBA

Brittney Griner, WNBA, Russia, Phoenix Mercury...
Associated Press

Russian Court Rejects Griner Appeal Of Her 9-Year Sentence

A Russian court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner of her nine-year prison sentence for drug possession, a step that could move her closer to a possible high-stakes prisoner swap between Moscow and Washington.
1 month ago
USA-Basketball-World-Cup...
Doug Feinberg, AP

US Women’s Basketball Dominates On International Stage

A'ja Wilson helped the U.S. to a fourth consecutive World Cup title with an 83-61 win over China, setting a record for a gold-medal game.
2 months ago
A'ja-Wilson-Team-USA-China...
Doug Feinberg, AP

Wilson, Gray Lead US To 77-63 Win Over China In World Cup

After a slow start, A'ja Wilson was clutch in the fourth quarter, finishing with 20 points to help the U.S. beat China 77-63 on Saturday.
2 months ago
Robert Sarver - Phoenix Suns...
Arizona Sports

Robert Sarver Announces He Will Seek Buyers For Phoenix Suns, Mercury

Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver announced Wednesday that he will sell his shares of the organizations, citing it is “what’s best” after the NBA suspended him.
2 months ago
Las-Vegas-Aces-WNBA-Champions...
Doug Feinberg, AP

Aces Poised To Capture Multiple WNBA Titles With Wilson, Gray

A’ja Wilson and the Las Vegas Aces look to be a safe bet to win a few more WNBA titles over the next several years.
2 months ago
Chelsea-Gray-Las-Vegas-Aces-WNBA-Finals...
Pat Eaton-Robb, AP

Las Vegas Aces Win First WNBA Title, Chelsea Gray Named MVP

Chelsea Gray scored 20 points to lead the Las Vegas Aces to their first WNBA title in a 78-71 road win over the Connecticut Sun in Game 4.
2 months ago
Russian Court Sets Brittney Griner Appeal Date For Oct. 25