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Brittney Griner news – update: WNBA star heads to penal colony where abuse, forced work common

The Russian court said that the remaining time the 32-year-old WNBA star must serve will be recalculated based on her pre-trial detention

Shweta Sharma,Johanna Chisholm,Graeme Massie
Wednesday 26 October 2022 22:10 BST
American basketball star Brittney Griner is detained in Russian airport

A Russian court has denied American basketball star Brittney Griner’s appeal to reduce her prison sentence for drug possession.

Tuesday’s denial paves the way for Ms Griner to serve nine years in a prison colony, unless the US government is able to negotiate a deal for her release.

In her final statement delivered via video from a detention centre outside Moscow, Griner emphasised how mentally taxing her eight-month detention and two trials had been, adding: “I was barely over the significant amount [of cannabis oil] ... People with more severe crimes have gotten less than what I was given.”

“I did not intend to do this,” she closed, before asking the court to take into account the fact that she had pleaded guilty.

The White House immediately struck out at the verdict, calling it “another sham judicial proceeding” in a statement released Tuesday morning while the US Embassy in Moscow lamented that it was another “sad day for the rule of law in Russia”.

Lawyers for the 32-year-old said in a statement on Tuesday that it could be “up to a few months” before she is transferred to a penal colony, where she is expected to serve out the remainder of her sentence.


Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice at State Department calls for ‘immediate release’

Desirée Cormier Smith took to Twitter to call Russian judicial proceedings “a sham.”

“We are disappointed but not surprised by the denial of Brittney Griner’s appeal. Just another reminder that these judicial proceedings are a sham. Russia should release BG immediately. We will not stop doing all we can to bring her home as soon as possible,” she wrote.

Graeme Massie25 October 2022 22:59

WNBPA president and player calls for Griner to be given ‘mercy'

Nneka Ogwumike, who plays for the LA Sparks and has also played in Russia like “much loved” Griner, called for her return to the US.

“She is being used in a way we never anticipated, especially as someone who has contributed so much to Russian sports culture,” she said.

“She has atoned and is looking for mercy, and I hope that is eventually something that comes through in BG’s case.”

Graeme Massie25 October 2022 23:14

WNBA calls Russian decision ‘unfortunate’ and calls for Griner’s return

“Today’s decision while unfortunate, was not unexpected and Brittney Griner remains wrongly detained. We greatly appreciate the ongoing efforts of the Administration and U.S. Department of State in leading the negotiations. It is time to bring this case to an end and bring BG home,” the WNBA tweeted.

Graeme Massie25 October 2022 23:34

Griner is “holding up well” her Russian lawyer tells CNN

“She is holding up well, she is a champion, she is a fighter,” Maria Blagovolina told CNN on Tuesday evening.

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 00:08

Brittney Griner apologises for ‘mistake’ at appeal hearing, adds she ‘did not intend to do this'

ICYMI: After her defence delivered a statement and asked for an acquittal or at least reduction in the nine-year prison sentence, Brittney Griner made a statement at her appeal, which was relayed to the Russian courtroom via a video feed as the WNBA star watched the proceeding from a cell.

“This has been a very traumatic experience, waiting for this day, waiting for the first court day and getting nine years,” began the imprisoned 32-year-old via video feed, noting that people with more severe crimes had received considerably less harsh sentences.

She asked that the court reconsider her case and take everything into account that her defence team had earlier laid out.

“I apologise for the mistake, I did not intend to do this,” Ms Griner said, adding that she hopes that court adjusts her sentence and also hopes that they take into account that she pleaded guilty to the offence.

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 01:02

Brittney Griner’s appeal rejected by Russian court

ICYMI: A Russian court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by US basketball star Brittney Griner against her nine-year prison sentence for possession and smuggling of drugs.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist was arrested on 17 Feb at a Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is banned in Russia. She was sentenced on 4 Aug to nine years in a penal colony.

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 02:04

Brittney Griner says she understood the verdict

ICYMI: The presiding judge in Brittney Griner’s appeal hearing said Tuesday that the verdict was upheld “without changes” except for the counting of time served in pre-trial detention as part of the sentence, Reuters reported.

Ms Griner, who watched the hearing via a video link as she was being held in her detention centre in the town of Novoye Grishino, just outside Moscow, alternately stood and sat throughout the proceeding while dressed in a black and red lumberjack shirt.

When asked if she understood the verdict, the WNBA start replied with a concise: “Yes”.

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 03:02

WNBA star to serve approximately eight more years in prison, in re-calculated time served

ICYMI: When delivering the verdict in upholding Brittney Griner’s nine-year prison sentence, the court added that the remaining time that the 32-year-old WNBA star has to serve will be recalculated based on her pre-trial detention.

One day in pre-trial detention will be counted as 1.5 days in prison, the Russian court said, so the basketball player will have to serve around eight more years in prison.

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 04:03

US National Security Advisor calls Griner appeal rejection another ‘sham judicial proceeding’

ICYMI: National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan issued a statement on the continued “wrongful detention” of WNBA star Brittney Griner minutes after the Russian court rejected the 32-year-old’s appeal to have the nine-year prison sentence either acquitted or reduced, slamming it as another “sham judicial proceeding”.

“President Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately. In recent weeks, the Biden-Harris Administration has continued to engage with Russia through every available channel and make every effort to bring home Brittney as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia,” said Mr Sullivan in the statement issued on Tuesday morning.

“The President has demonstrated that he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths and make tough decisions to bring Americans home, as his Administration has done successfully from countries around the world. The Administration remains in regular touch with representatives of the families, and we continue to admire their courage in the face of these unimaginable circumstances.”

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 05:03

ICYMI: What is hashish oil and how did it land Brittney Griner in a Russian jail?

WNBA star Brittney Griner had her appeal to have her nine-year jail sentence acquitted or reduced rejected by a Russian court on Tuesday.

In February, according to the Russian officials, Mr Griner allegedly packed hashish oil in her bag, likely in the form of a vape.

It was that discovery that led to her nine-year sentence, after Ms Griner pleaded guilty in July to charges of smuggling less than a gram of hash oil.

Here’s what to know about the substance.

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 06:02

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