Brittney Griner's lawyers appeal Russian drug conviction

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner Photo by EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

WNBA player Brittney Griner's legal team appealed her Russian drug trafficking conviction on Monday.

According to NPR, Griner lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov did not specify the grounds of the appeal, though they did say at the time of the conviction that a nine-year sentence was excessive "and that in similar cases defendants have received an average sentence of about five years."

Griner, who played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason, was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after law enforcement claimed they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. The Phoenix Mercury player admitted to possessing the cartridges but said she packed them "accidentally" and had "no intention on breaking any Russian law."

CBS News reports that Russia  "officially confirmed" on Saturday that "there are ongoing negotiations with the United States government regarding a potential prisoner swap." The Russians reportedly hope to trade Griner for arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year sentence in Illinois.

The U.S. State Department, which considers Griner to be wrongfully detained, has also confirmed that negotiations are ongoing.

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