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Brittney Griner trial: WNBA star’s lawyers appeal Russian drug conviction

MOSCOW — Lawyers for WNBA star Brittney Griner have appealed her conviction on drug charges in Russia, multiple news outlets are reporting.

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According to The Associated Press, Russian media reported Monday that attorney Maria Blagovolina, one of the lawyers representing the 31-year-old Griner, confirmed that the appeal had been filed. No further details were publicly available.

The news came less than two weeks after the two-time Olympic gold medalist was convicted in a Russian court on Aug. 4 of drug smuggling and possession, the AP previously reported. Griner, who had pleaded guilty, was sentenced to nine years in prison and fined about $16,400, according to the AP and CNN. Following the decision, her attorneys described the sentence as “absolutely unreasonable” and accused the court of ignoring “all the evidence of the defense, and – most importantly – the guilty plea,” The New York Times reported at the time.

Russian authorities arrested the Phoenix Mercury center in February after they said she had cannabis in her luggage at the Moscow airport, the AP reported. Griner, who said she mistakenly packed the oil and never intended to bring it to Russia, also argued that she uses the oil to treat pain and had received a recommendation from a doctor, according to the news agency.

Late last month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his counterpart Sergey Lavrov, pushing for a deal where Griner and another American who is jailed in Russia for espionage, Paul Whelan, could be released in exchange for arms trader Viktor Bout, the AP reported. On Sunday, a senior Russian diplomat acknowledged that discussions about a prisoner exchange have taken place, according to the news agency.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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