A Russian court has rejected an appeal by WNBA star Brittney Griner against her nine-year jail term for drug smuggling charges. It is now likely that Griner will likely serve nine years in a penal colony.
“We are very disappointed,” Griner’s attorneys said in a statement following the ruling. “The verdict contains numerous defects and we hoped that the court of appeal would take them into consideration.”
It is unclear whether Griner will continue to appeal the decision.
“We need to discuss this with our client,” the statement continues. “We generally think that we must use all the available legal tools, especially given the harsh and unprecedented nature of her verdict.”
Last month, Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the UN who has negotiated the release of several American citizens held in other countries, traveled to Russia to try and negotiate the release of Griner and one other American prisoner.
Moscow stated that they were seeking the release of Viktor Bout, a notorious arms trafficker. Bout was sentenced to 25 years in U.S. prison in 2012 on charges of conspiring to kill Americans, acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles, and provide material support to a terrorist organization.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan issued a statement following the decision.
“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. President Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately,” the statement read.
“In recent weeks, the Biden-Harris Administration has continued to engage with Russia through every available channel and make every effort to bring home Brittney as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia, including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan. The President has demonstrated that he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths and make tough decisions to bring Americans home, as his Administration has done successfully from countries around the world. The Administration remains in regular touch with representatives of the families, and we continue to admire their courage in the face of these unimaginable circumstances.”