NEWS: Brittney Griner Files Appeal Of 9-Year Prison Sentence Amid Prisoner Swap Talks
Brittney Griner’s 9-year prison sentence for smuggling drugs into Russia has been appealed by her legal team. The news comes from Griner’s attorney, days after Russia has reportedly acknowledged discussions about a potential trade of prisoners with the United States. Biden’s administration has reportedly offered Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner and Paul Whelan.
Griner has been detained in Russia since February after vape cartridges containing cannabis oils were found in her luggage at an airport in Moscow. Griner was charged with smuggling drugs into Russia, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Griner pled guilty to narcotics possession and smuggling charges during her drug trial, acknowledging that the cannabis oils were in her luggage. Griner also stated that she had no criminal intent.
Director of the North American Department, Alexander Darchiev, issued a statement to Russian state media on Saturday.
“This quite sensitive issue of the swap of convicted Russian and US citizens is being discussed through the channels defined by our Presidents. These individuals are, indeed, being discussed. The Russian side has long been seeking the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to professionals, proceeding from the ‘do not harm’ principle.”
Paul Whelan has been detained in Russia since 2018 for alleged espionage. Whelan was detained at a Moscow hotel and arrested on espionage charges. Whelan was convicted on the espionage charges in June 2020, and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. U.S officials had deemed Whelan’s trial as “unfair”.
The Kremlin warned that a potential prisoner exchange for WNBA’s Brittney Griner must be discussed without any fanfare. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov issued a statement to reporters during a conference call regarding the alleged offer made by the U.S.
“We know that such issues are discussed without any such release of information. Normally, the public learns about it when the agreements are already implemented,” Peskov said.
CNN has more HERE.