Lawyers for lesbian American basketball player Brittney Griner have filed an appeal against a Russian court sentence that sentenced the professional athlete to 9 years in prison for drug smuggling.
The verdict of the Moscow Region Court was announced on August 4. Greiner’s lawyers told the New York Times that the appeal could take up to 3 months, while Russian official sources said all legal avenues must be exhausted before a possible prisoner exchange could be considered.
Also according to the New York Times, head of the North America Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alexander Darchiev said over the weekend that “political negotiations are underway with the United States, which include the case of Russians detained by the United States, whose release Russia is waiting for in exchange for the freedom of Brittney Greiner.”
Darchiev confirmed to Russian news agency TASS that Russia was awaiting release Victor Boutjailed in the United States. He confirmed that the exchange could be subject to Paul Whelana former American soldier who was sentenced to prison for spying in Russia.
Brittney Greiner was detained in February of this year at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport due to the reaction of a service dog. E-cigarettes with hash oil were found in her belongings. During the trial, Greiner pleaded guilty, apologized for what she had done, and stressed that she accidentally put marijuana concoction in her suitcase.
According to the court’s verdict, the 9-year prison term was imposed taking into account a partial confession, an apology, Greiner’s state of health, as well as her charitable work.
The US State Department said it maintains its position that Brittney Griner was illegally arrested in Russia.