Former WNBA player Brittney Griner was hoping for an acquittal or reduction in her prison sentence. Her legal team argues that her sentence is too severe and politically motivated.
However, the appeals court in Russia disagree and upheld the 9-year sentence for drug charges. Griner has admitted to bringing illegal drugs into the country.
The maximum sentence in Russia is ten years for the crime Griner committed.
Griner, who is 6-foot, 9-inches, has been in prison for eight months so far.
“No judge, hand on heart, will honestly say that Griner’s nine-year sentence is in line with Russian criminal law,” Alexander Boykov, one of Griner’s lawyers, said.
“If the court wants to punish her, [it should] give her a new, ‘fair’ verdict and mitigate the punishment. The severity and cruelty of the sentence applied to Griner shocks people around the world,” he added.
“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said.
“I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom.”
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A growing number of Americans have called for the Biden administration to do more to secure Griner’s release. Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving took to the microphone at midcourt before his team’s season opener to call on President Joe Biden to bring Griner home.
“I appreciate us being able to share this floor together, all of us as brothers. But the big picture that’s going on in the world is free our sister, Brittney Griner. Please,” Irving shared with the home crowd.
“POTUS, do your job. Everybody do your job. Please bring our sister home. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs to the best of our ability if we didn’t stand for what we believe in,” he added.
Many across the WNBA also expressed support for Griner last Tuesday on her 32nd birthday.
“Happy Birthday Brittney Griner, we will not forget about you and we will not stop fighting for you. The W won’t be the same until you’re home,” the league’s Twitter account posted.