Russia rejects US basketball star Brittney Griner’s appeal over 9-year drug sentence

Russia rejects US basketball star Brittney Griner's appeal over 9-year drugs sentence

US basketball star Brittney Griner at the 2012 ESPY Awards. Credit: Kathy Hutchins/

RUSSIA has rejected US basketball star Brittney Griner’s appeal over a drugs sentence that will see her serve up to nine years in prison.

Double-Olympic winner Griner, aged 32, was convicted in August of smuggling and possessing cannabis oil.

She has since apologised for the incident in an appeal hearing via video link, which she described as an “honest mistake”, saying it had been “very, very stressful”.

But the Krasnogorsk court, located near Moscow, upheld the sentence, with the state prosecutor calling it “fair” and ruled to leave the verdict “without change”.

Griner was arrested on February 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil – a substance banned in Russia.

Russia rejects US basketball star Brittney Griner's appeal over 9-year drug sentence
Brittney Griner for Phoenix Mercury at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, AZ USA May 17, 2017. Credit: Keeton Gale/

She was sentenced on August 4 to nine years in a penal colony for possession and smuggling of drugs, with the court finding that she had committed the crime “deliberately”, reports One India.

Griner pleaded guilty but maintained in her testimony that it was an “honest mistake” and that she had packed “in a rush.”

Her defence team submitted documents in a bid to prove that she had been prescribed cannabis oil to treat pain, while arguing that the nine-year term was “excessive”, with other defendants in similar cases given sentences of five years.

US officials have said that Griner – whose arrest came days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 – was “wrongfully detained,” an accusation denied by Moscow.

Her case has formed part of a high-profile diplomacy between the US and Russia, but relations have collapsed since Russia invaded Ukraine.

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Vickie S
Written by

Vickie Scullard

A journalist of more than 12 years from Manchester, UK, Vickie now lives in Madrid and works as a news writer for the Euro Weekly News.