A Russian court has denied Brittney Griner’s appeal of her nine-year prison sentence.
Back in August, the court sentenced Griner to nine years in a penal colony and fined the star a million rubles – approximately $16,300.
The shocking ruling stemmed from her February arrest in which she was accused of carrying hashish oil in her luggage.
Shortly after her sentencing, Griner’s lawyers told The New York Times that the verdict was “absolutely unreasonable” and said they “will certainly file an appeal”.
On 25 October, the Moscow Regional Court court held the Olympic athlete’s appeal hearing – which featured Griner participating via video.
“I’ve been here almost eight months, and people with more severe crimes have been given less than what I was given,” the beloved basketball player said during the hearing (per CNN).
“I really hope the court will adjust this sentence because it has been very, very stressful and very traumatic to my mental and my psyche and being away from my family, not being able to communicate.”
However despite Griner’s statement and her lawyer’s calling out the court’s unjustified ruling, the judge doubled down on Griner’s original nine-year- prison sentence.
The judge also ruled that the young athlete’s time in detention will be applied to her overall sentence – meaning she’ll be serving just over eight years.
In response to the hearing, Griner’s legal representatives released a statement to express their disappointment with the ruling.
The following statement was released regarding Brittney Griner pic.twitter.com/gPhTmq3O9K
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 25, 2022
“The verdict contains numerous defects, and we hoped that the court appeal would take them into consideration. We still think the punishment is excessive and contradicts to the existing court practice,” said Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov (per ESPN).
Griner’s fans and industry peers have also slammed the Russian court for not granting the player an appeal.
“Today’s decision, while unfortunate, was not unexpected, and Brittney Griner remains wrongfully detained. We greatly appreciate the efforts of the administration and the U.S. Department of State in leading negotiations. It is time to bring this case to an end and bring BG home,” the WNBA said in a statement.
National Security Advisor for President Biden Jake Sullivan also echoed similar sentiments in his own statement.
“We are aware of the news out of Russia that Brittney Griner will continue to be wrongfully detained under intolerable circumstances after having to undergo another sham judicial proceeding today,” he wrote. “President Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately.”
Over the last few months, the Biden administration has been in negotiations with Russia regarding Griner’s release.
In July, the president offered to exchange convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout as part of a deal.
At the time, State Secretary Antony Blinken, said the White House had struck a deal with the Kremlin to secure her release.
However, recent updates surrounding the high-profile trade have come to a standstill.