A Russian court will begin hearing Brittney Griner’s appeal against her nine-year prison term for drug use on Tuesday. She is being incarcerated in a correctional colony outside of Moscow, but she is participating in the session at the Moscow Regional Court through video call.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time all-star center for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury was found guilty on August 4th after authorities said they discovered marijuana oil-infused vape cartridges in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, revealed to “CBS Mornings” co-host Gayle King earlier this month that she is scared for the future of the WNBA star. oleh police in a Dallas suburb for a second parole infraction. He was then brought to a county jail and given over to Texas prisons, who released him this past September while still wearing the ankle monitor he was wearing at the time.
According to Dallas County records, Nestor Hernandez has been detained numerous times since 2011, including on suspicion of burglary, aggravated robbery, and unauthorized possession of a firearm by a felon.
“It’s like a movie for me. I’m like, ‘In no world did I ever thought, you know, our president and a foreign nation president would be sitting down having to discuss the freedom of my wife.’ And so to me, as much as everybody’s telling me a different definition of what B.G. is, it feels to me as if she’s a hostage,” Cherelle said.
“That must scare you,” King replied.
“It terrifies me because, I mean, when you watch movies, like, sometimes those situations don’t end well.
According to Cherelle, sometimes they never get the person back. In February, just days before Russia moved soldiers into Ukraine, there were rising tensions between Moscow and Washington. Griner was departing for Russia, where she had previously competed during the offseason of the American league.
Griner acknowledged having the canisters in her suitcase during her trial, but she claimed she had packed them accidentally in a rush and had no malicious purpose. Her defense team provided formal confirmation that she had received a cannabis prescription for pain relief.
Griner’s attorneys contended that the punishment was harsh after the conviction because the nine-year sentence was close to the maximum of 10 years. According to them, defendants in situations like these received an average sentence of five years, with about a third of them being given parole.
Prior to her conviction, the U.S. State Department claimed that Griner had been “wrongfully detained”; however, Russia has categorically denied this claim.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of going public with the news that Washington had made a “substantial proposal” to get Griner and Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage, back home in July, reflecting the mounting pressure on the Biden administration to do more to bring them home.
Blinken did not provide further details, but according to The Associated Press and other news agencies, Washington has offered to swap Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who was once known as the “merchant of death.” and is currently serving a 25-year sentence in the United States.
The White House claimed that Russia has not yet responded to its offer in a useful manner.
Russian diplomats have declined to respond to the American request and encouraged Washington to hold private discussions in order to avoid making public pronouncements.
U.S. President Joe Biden met with Cherelle Griner, Brittney Griner’s wife, and Lindsay Colas, the player’s agent, in September. The sister of Paul Whelan, Elizabeth Whelan, and Biden also took a seat apart.
The president emphasized to the families his “continued commitment to working through all available avenues to bring Brittney and Paul home safely.” the White House said after the discussions.
In April, the Biden administration carried out a prisoner swap in which Moscow freed Marine veteran Trevor Reed in return for the release by the United States of a Russian pilot named Konstantin Yaroshenko, who had been found guilty of participating in a narcotics trafficking scheme.
The detention of Alexander Vinnik, a second Russian now in American prison who is accused of using an illegal cryptocurrency exchange to launder millions of dollars, has also drawn criticism from Moscow. Before being extradited to the United States in August, Vinnik had been detained in Greece after being detained there in 2017 at the request of the United States. It wasn’t known if Russia would need the release of Vinnik as a condition of any future exchange.