A Russian court denied Brittney Griner’s appeal, which is the latest blow to the Phoenix Mercury star’s hopes of being released anytime soon. Griner’s unlawful detention has now entered its 249th day.
Griner was detained at a Russian airport on February 17 after she was accused of having a vape cartridge that contained hashish oil. Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in July and said that the vape cartridges containing hashish oil were in her luggage mistakenly and that she had no “intention” of breaking Russian law. However, Griner was found guilty in a Moscow-area court and sentenced to nine years on August 4.
Appearing virtually on Tuesday, Griner pleaded with the court for a lesser sentence citing other defendants with more severe charges receiving a lighter sentence.
Griner made this statement to the court.
“I beg that the court takes in all of the stakes that was overlooked in the first court and reassess my sentence here,“ Griner said, apologizing for her “mistake” and saying that it has been “traumatic” to be away from her family.
Our own Jack Simone reported on October 19, Griner’s birthday, about the message she sent out to supporters via her lawyer.
“Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home. All the support and love are definitely helping me.”
The U.S. government classified Griner’s case on May 3 as “wrongfully detained,” meaning the U.S. will more aggressively work to negotiate her release. Unfortunately, Griner was expecting the appeal to be denied as she made this statement recently before her appeal hearing via her lawyer.
“She is not very much hopeful for the appeal because the first court decision — the verdict showed that the case is totally unjust even by present Russian standards, and we are not hoping for a big release, but of course we hope for the best,” Boikov previously told ABC News.
Did Griner plead guilty? Yes. Was Griner convicted? Yes. Does that make what has happened since unjust? Absolutely. As pointed out earlier, people convicted of more heinous crimes have received lighter sentences than Griner. As pointed out by her lawyer to CNN
“This [verdict] contradicts the existing legal practice. Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is unreasonable.” “We will certainly file an appeal.”
You have to believe that it is more going on in this case that is beyond Brittney Griner’s control (global politics, racial discrimination) that will potentially have her locked up for almost a decade. But, regardless of what happens going forward, this story and Griner should not be forgotten once this news cycle moves on to the next big story.