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Russian Court Makes Major Ruling Against Brittney Griner – US Diplomat Calls it ‘Excessive and Disproportionate’

A Moscow court has rejected Brittney Griner’s appeal, so the basketball star continues to face a nine-year prison sentence. In August, the 32-year-old Griner was convicted of possessing and smuggling cannabis oil into Russia, the BBC reported. She was charged, put in detention and sentenced as a result. Though the court upheld Griner’s sentence for the drug charges she was brought up on, it was ruled that her pre-trial time in detention would count toward her sentence, Fox News reported. The Moscow court said they would count every day pre-trial day in detention as 1.5 days in prison, which leaves Griner facing about another eight years in prison in Russia, Fox added. The U.S. diplomat who was at the hearing for Griner said that the rejection of Griner’s appeal and the sentencing was “excessive and disproportionate,” the BBC reported. The sports star’s lawyer, Alexander Boykov, said the sentence handed down to Griner was unfair. “No judge, hand on heart, will honestly say that Griner’s nine-year sentence is in line with Russian criminal law,” Boykov said, according to the BBC. In an official statement, Griner’s legal team expressed their disappointment in the ruling from the three judges on the panel of the Moscow appeals court, the New York Times reported. “We are very disappointed. The verdict contains numerous defects, and we hoped that the court of appeal would take them into consideration,” the lawyers said. There are two courts above the appellate courts, which eventually lead up to the Russian supreme court, but Griner’s attorneys were not clear about whether they would take the case further, according to the Times. The high courts in Russia do not typically overturn verdicts, particularly if they are cases that are tied to foreign policy and the Kremlin, the Times reported. “We need to discuss this with our client. We generally think that we must use all the available legal tools, especially given the harsh and unprecedented nature of her verdict,” the statement from Griner’s attorneys said, according to the Times. If the U.S. and Russia cannot come to an agreement over Griner, she will serve her jail time in a Russian penal colony, the Times reported. The White House condemned this most recent court proceeding and once again said that Griner should be released. Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor to President Biden, called the Russian court’s decision “another sham judicial proceeding,” Fox News reported. “We are aware of the news out of Russia that Brittney Griner will continue to be wrongfully detained under intolerable circumstances after having to undergo another sham judicial proceeding today. President Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately,” an official statement from Sullivan read, Fox reported. “In recent weeks, the Biden-Harris Administration has continued to engage with Russia through every available channel and make every effort to bring home Brittney as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia, including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan,” Sullivan added in his statement. “The President has demonstrated that he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths and make tough decisions to bring Americans home, as his Administration has done successfully from countries around the world. The Administration remains in regular touch with representatives of the families, and we continue to admire their courage in the face of these unimaginable circumstances.” Griner was detained on February 17 at an airport near Moscow when, airport authorities said, vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage. She had come to Russia to play club basketball during the U.S. off-season, the BBC reported. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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