Brittney Griner legal team appeals against Russian drugs sentence

“We demand to overturn the verdict passed by the Khimki court and impose a new sentence,” Alexander Boikov, a lawyer at Moscow Legal Center who represented Griner in court, told Reuters.

He said the appeal would be mainly based on alleged violations in the course of the investigation. Griner’s defence team argued in court that some of her case files had been drawn up without being translated for her into English.

The athlete was caught up in a geopolitical storm when Russia sent troops into Ukraine a week after her arrest and the US and its allies responded with unprecedented waves of sanctions against Moscow.

Russia denies that the case was politically motivated. It has warned the US against engaging in “megaphone diplomacy” and warned that any prisoner swap would have to be negotiated in private.

In a Telegram post on Monday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova took issue with the White House’s public criticism of the Russian court verdict. She contrasted that with its silence over last week’s FBI raid on the property of former president Donald Trump, of which a White House spokeswoman said Biden had not been aware.

“Let me remind you, Griner was smuggling cartridges of liquid for smoking, which contained hashish oil. The basketball player herself admitted this, since there was no point in denying it,” Zakharova said.

“At the same time, the White House refuses to comment on the investigation around Trump and the seizure of certain documents related to the White House from him. Complete silence, although we are talking about American justice and law enforcement.”