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WNBA star Brittney Griner got devastating news again from a Russian court in her bid to get back to the United States. A Russian appeals court denied her appeal of the nine-and-a-half-year sentence she got for having vape pens with cannabis, The New York Times reported.
A Russian court on Tuesday upheld the American basketball star Brittney Griner’s sentence on drug smuggling charges, clearing the way for her to serve nine years in a penal colony unless the U.S. government can negotiate a deal for her release. Ms. Griner’s lawyers said before the hearing on Tuesday that she did “not expect any miracles to happen,” but that she was hopeful that the three-judge panel of the appeals court in Krasnogorsk, near Moscow, would reduce her sentence.
While the court’s decision means Ms. Griner will begin serving her sentence soon, it was not immediately clear if her legal options were exhausted. There are two higher courts above the appellate division, culminating in the Supreme Court, but Ms. Griner’s lawyers have yet to confirm whether they will take the case any further. But the higher courts in Russia are not known for negating lower court decisions the way they are in the United States.
“Brittney is a very strong person and has a champion’s character,” her attorneys said on Monday. “She of course has her highs and lows as she is severely stressed being separated from her loved ones for over eight months.”
Last week, a close aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Yury Ushakov, was on the show “Moscow.Kremlin.Putin” when he made the comments, USA Today reported.
“In this tense situation, I think that he (Biden) is thinking first and foremost about the upcoming midterm elections,” he said. ” “He keeps emphasizing the need to bring (Griner) back home … however, it’s not the main issue that we are concerned about.”
Griner got more unwelcome news, this time from President Joe Biden, as he said there has not been any progress on getting her back to the United States.
The president made the comments as he spoke to reporters outside of the White House on Wednesday when asked if he planned to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G 20 summit, Newsweek reported.
“Look, I have no intention of meeting with him,” he said to anchor Jake Tapper on CNN. “But, for example, if he came to me at the G20 and said, ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner,’ I would meet with him.”
But when he was taking questions from reporters as he boarded Marine One he was not optimistic.
“You said you would be open to meeting with Vladimir Putin to discuss Brittney Griner. Have you seen any movement on that front?” the reporter said.
“Not with Putin,” the president said.
Former Russian Prisoner and American citizen Trevor Reed has detailed what he believes life is going to be like for WNBA star Brittney Griner in a Russian prison.
Griner is still behind bars in Russia after being sentenced to 9 years and is in for a tough time, he said.
“Regardless of how you feel about Brittney Griner’s case, that sentence is clearly political. There’s no denying that. Once you are convicted in a Russian court, you do have a chance to go to appeals and appeal that decision to another kangaroo court in Moscow. So after that trial, you know, depending on Brittney’s decision on whether she wants to appeal or not, she may stay in Moscow at the detention facility that she is already at until her appeals are completed. Or if she chooses not to go to appeals, they may transfer her to a forced labor camp. Considering the fact that the Russian government is considering exchanging her, they may also decide to leave her in Moscow to make it easier for her to be returned to the United States,” Reed said.
Reed said that those who are sent to the labor camps are “facing serious threats to their health” because of malnutrition and the lack of medical care.
“I am hoping that there will be an exchange that we are able to get them home, so I am hoping for the best in that,” he said of Griner and Paul Whelan.
Griner pleaded guilty to bringing vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil into Russia, which is a crime.