The WNBA star’s legal team has appealed the verdict of her being found guilty of smuggling drugs in Russia.
Griner’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina revealed the news to CNN earlier today, saying the appeal has been filed but didn’t offer any details on the grounds of the appeal.
After the verdict, Blagovolina and co-counsel Alexander Boykov agreed that the sentence was excessive. However, evidence shows that in similar cases, people guilty of the same crime received an average sentence of five years. And even then, a third of the offenders were granted parole.
Even if the appeal isn’t successful, the Biden administration is working hard to get Griner back home by swapping her for Russian Viktor Bout, a convicted arms dealer and entrepreneur. He used his air transport companies to sneak weapons from Eastern Europe to Africa and the Middle East from the 1990s through the 2000s.
America’s relations with Russia are weak, but Alexander Darchiev, head of the Foreign Ministry’s North America department, confirmed that Russia would be interested in a swap.
“This quite sensitive issue of the swap of convicted Russian and U.S. citizens is being discussed through the channels defined by our presidents,” Darchiev told state news agency Tass. “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.'”
Griner’s been locked up since February, but support has remained strong back in the States, with the Boston Celtics repping for her during the 2022 NBA Finals and the WNBA naming her honorary All-Star starter.