The jailed US basketball star Brittney Griner’s appeal was rejected by a Russian court on Tuesday, after she challenged a nine-year sentence for drugs possession and smuggling. The WNBA all-star and two-time Olympic gold medallist was arrested on 17 February and found guilty by the court in August. She was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony. Elizabeth Rood, the charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Moscow, said: ‘Nothing in the previous sentence, nothing in the result of today’s appeal changes the fact that the United States government considers Miss Griner to be wrongfully detained.’ Griner’s lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, said the handling of the case ‘contradicts almost all of the existing judicial practice known to us in this regard’.
After reports of a possible prisoner swap, Blagovolina said she wasn’t involved in nor was she aware of any negotiations between the US and Russia. President Joe Biden however, said talks with Moscow to secure the release of Griner and other American prisoners in Russia were ongoing, but so far had not been met with ‘much positive response’.