United States basketball player Brittney Griner, who was found guilty of possession & trafficking of drugs in Russia, has pleaded her nine-year jail sentence, her lawyers said Monday.
The two-times Olympic basketball gold medalist and Women’s NBA champion was nabbed in February at Moscow airport for possessing vape cartridges with a small amount of cannabis oil.
NBA-star’s legal team took it to Twitter stating that, “Brittney Griner’s defense team filed an appeal for the verdict.”
The date of the appeal for hearing is yet to be finalized. The 31-year-old, who was in Moscow to play for the professional Yekaterinburg team in her off-season from the Phoenix Mercury, was charged with smuggling drugs and was sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony in starting of August.
Griner pleaded guilty to the charges, but mentioned she did not intend to use the banned substance in Russia.
Since her arrest, Moscow and Washington have been in talks about a potential prisoner exchange despite tensions soaring over Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
The White House said it put forward a deal for the exchange of Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is serving 16 years in Russia on espionage charges.
On Saturday, Moscow indicated that it was seeking the release of notorious arms trafficker Viktor Bout.
Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and then extradited to the U.S., where in 2012 he was sentenced to 25 years in prison on charges of arming rebels in some of the world’s bloodiest conflicts.
He inspired the 2005 arms smuggling movie “Lord of War” starring Nicolas Cage and was dubbed the “Merchant of Death” by former British minister Peter Hain for supplying weapons to war-torn Angola and Liberia.