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Moscow court upholds nine-year jail verdict for US basketball player Griner

It is noted that Griner and her defense lawyers asked the court to lighten the sentence

MOSCOW, October 25. /TASS/. The Moscow Region Court on Tuesday upheld the verdict to US basketball player Brittney Griner who was sentenced in Russia to a 9-year incarceration for drug smuggling, according to a TASS reporter in the courtroom.

"The verdict of Moscow’s Khimki City Court with respect to Brittney Griner shall be changed to give credit for the time spent in the pretrial detention unit. The rest of the verdict shall be left unchanged. The appeal of the defense has been dismissed," according to a verdict by a trio of judges.

Griner and her defense lawyers asked the court to lighten the sentence. Griner told the three-judge panel she regretted her mistake, but had no malicious intent and hoped that would be taken into account.

The court in the Moscow Region city of Khimki on August 4 sentenced Griner to 9 years of prison, ruling that the fact she pleaded guilty and had sports achievements were mitigating circumstances.

She was found guilty on charges of illegal acquisition, possession or transportation of drugs and smuggling of a significant amount of drugs. She was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on suspicion of attempting to smuggle drugs into Russia. The player pleaded guilty, but said she put hashish oil into her luggage as she packed in a hurry and had no intention of smuggling.

As a US national team player, Griner won the 2014 World Cup in Turkey, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the 2018 World Cup in Spain and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Prior to her arrest, she played for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg team.

The US and Russia are engaged in negotiations on a prisoner exchange. The US Administration is seeking the release of Griner and another US national, Paul Whelan, who was convicted in Russia of espionage.