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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.


Griner’s lawyers hope basketball star can be released in prisoner exchange

Speaking to reporters outside the Moscow courtroom where US basketball star Brittney Griner’s appeal was rejected, lawyers for the WNBA player said they hoped that she could find freedom through a prisoner exchange overseen by her country’s government.

“We hope that an exchange is possible,” said defence lawyer Alexander Boykov on Tuesday, adding that his team plans to speak with Ms Griner in the next couple of days.

Ultimately, he noted, the decision now lies with Ms Griner about whether she wants her legal team to pursue a second appeal of the verdict that will keep her behind bars for eight more years, after her pre-trial detention time served knocked off a few months of her nine-year sentence.

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 07:01

Griner’s lawyers say it will be some time before she is moved to prisoner colony

Brittney Griner’s lawyers said in a prepared statement that their client’s chief fear right now is that she will be forced to serve out the full nine-year sentence, Reuters reported.

“Brittney’s biggest fear is that she is not exchanged and will have to serve the whole sentence in Russia. She had hopes for today as each month, each day away from her family and friends matters to her,” the statement read.

They added that it take some time before the 32-year-old was relocated to a prison colony, where she has been sentenced to serve the remainder of her nine-year sentence.

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 07:57

US Embassy in Moscow says it’s ‘another sad day for the rule of law in Russia'

The US Embassy in Moscow took to Twitter on Tuesday to react to the news that Brittney Griner’s hearing had ended with the Russian court rejecting her defence team’s request for an acquittal or reduction in her nine-year prison sentence.

“Another sad day for the rule of law in Russia. Ms. Griner’s excessive and disproportionate sentence of 9 years remains. The U.S. government continues to consider Brittney wrongfully detained,” tweeted the embassy’s official Twitter account.

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 09:01

Brittney Griner to serve remaining eight years of nine-year prison sentence, court rules

ICYMI: Throughout Tuesday’s proceedings, Brittney Griner’s lawyers argued that her punishment was excessive, highlighting how similar cases in the country had amounted to much less severe sentences of five years. About a third of those cases, they noted, were granted parole.

Their efforts to acquit or reduce the WNBA star’s nine-year prison sentence would prove fruitless, as shortly after the hearing concluded the judge presiding over the proceeding announced that the Russian court would be upholding the sentence handed down in August.

Read the full report from The Independent here.

Russian court rejects Brittney Griner appeal of 9-year prison sentence

The WNBA star’s defence had requested an acquittal or reduction in her nine-year prison sentence for drug possession

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 10:03

Former Obama White House official compare Griner to ‘prisoner of war'

David Axelrod, a former Obama-era White House official who served as the former president’s senior advisor, compared Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia on Tuesday to that of a “prisoner of war”.

“Poor ⁦@brittneygriner⁩ effectively has become a prisoner of war--a tragic pawn in a larger game,” tweeted the former chief strategist for Barack Obama‘s presidential campaigns after learning that the WNBA star’s appeal to have her prison sentence reduced or acquitted had been rejected by a Moscow court.

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 11:05

US State Department spokesperson says ‘sad for justice in Russia’

ICYMI: US State Department spokesperson Ned Price spoke with CNN on Tuesday, shortly after a Russian court upheld its nine-year prison sentence of WNBA star Brittney Griner and blasted the proceeding as a “sham” and a “sad day for justice in Russia”.

The spokesperson added that the US continues to “engage with the Russians,” with conversations taking place as recently as the past few days.

“We are continuing to urge them to engage, and to engage seriously on this because we want to see Paul [Whelan], we want to see Brittney [Griner] returned to their loving families,” he said, highlighting the other American who is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage.

Watch the full clip below:

Graeme Massie26 October 2022 12:02

What’s next for Brittney Griner after Russia court rejects her appeal of nine-year prison sentence?

ICYMI: The WNBA star’s lawyers said their client will be transferred to a Russian penal colony in the next few months.

Johanna Chisholm has the story.

What’s next for Brittney Griner after Russia court rejects appeal?

The WNBA star’s lawyers said their client will be transferred to a Russian penal colony in the next few months

Johanna Chisholm26 October 2022 12:28

ICYMI: What happened to WNBA star Brittney Griner and why is she detained in Russia?

WNBA star Brittney Griner, 32, has been detained in Russia since February after illegal cannibas oil was allegedly found in her luggage by officials at a Moscow airport.

Her detainment occurred shortly before Russia launched its war in Ukraine, with geopolitical tensions making it undoubtedly more difficult to secure her release.

Ms Griner’s family, friends and fans – alongside many public figures – have been calling on Russia to free her for months and for the US State Department to intervene.

She pleaded guilty to drug charges in July before being sentenced to nine years behind bars the following month.

An appeal hearing in Russian court was held on Tuesday. Despite Maria Blagovolina, one of the lawyers representing Ms Griner, arguing that the “punishment imposed on Griner does not correspond to the gravity of the crime,” a Russian court denied Ms Griner’s appeal to reduce her prison sentence.

Here’s everything we know about the ordeal:

Why is WNBA star Brittney Griner detained in Russia?

The basketball star has been detained in Moscow for five months and counting

Johanna Chisholm26 October 2022 13:30

Teammates, basketball players across the WNBA league share messages for Brittney Griner

With the news that Brittney Griner’s appeal to have her nine-year prison sentence acquitted or reduced was rejected by a Russian court on Tuesday, colleagues and peers from across the basketball world began sharing their tributes to the detained 32-year-old.

“a sister, daughter, wife, teammate, friend, Olympian, activist, community leader, champion… that should be at home with her loved ones. 250 days too many,” tweeted Natalie Achonwa, a Canadian WNBA player with the Minnesota Lynx.

Bria Nicole Hartley, a French-American professional basketball player for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, tweeted, “We miss you and we love you BG,” while Emma Meesseman, who plays in both the Russian Premier League and the WNBA with the Chicago Sky, wrote, “BG should be with her family,” alongside the hashtag #FreeBG.

Kia Nurse, Ms Griner’s teammate on the Phoenix Mercury and a Canadian basketball player, tweeted, my heart goes out to BG and her loved ones. We love you and we miss you. Bring her home,” with the hashtag #WeareBG


Johanna Chisholm26 October 2022 14:30

Phoneix Mercury president reacts to Griner’s appeal being rejected: ‘There are things more important than basketball'

The president of the Phoenix Mercury, the WNBA team that Brittney Griner plays for, called for bringing the eight-time WNBA All-Star and two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year home after learning of her appeal being rejected on Tuesday.

“It’s hard to say she’s doing well, given the circumstance ... unfortunately we were hoping for some mercy today and we didn’t receive any of that,” said president Vince Kozar.

“This is a reminder that there are things that are a lot more important than basketball and Brittney coming home is at the very, very, very top of that list for all of us, even if she comes home tomorrow and never plays again,” he said when asked about the very real possibility that the 32-year-old might never play in the WNBA again.

Watch the full clip here:

Johanna Chisholm26 October 2022 15:33

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