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Now Griner has returned to the detention center, where she was being held during a weeks-long trial as her lawyers vowed to appeal the sentence while the Biden administration tries to negotiate her release.

During the trial, Griner pleaded guilty on February 17 to carrying less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in his luggage while traveling at Moscow airport. She testified in court that she was aware of Russia’s strict drug laws and had no intention of carrying marijuana. Entering the country, said she was in a hurry and “stress packed”.

Her lawyers had hoped that Greener’s plea and statement of contrition would lead to a lighter sentence. She faces 10 years of charges, with prosecutors asking for her 9.5 years in prison. In addition to the nine-year sentence, Griner must pay a fine of 1 million rubles, or about $16,400.

“I made an honest mistake and I hope your ruling doesn’t end my life here,” Griner said in court before sentencing. “I know everyone is talking about political pawns and politics, but I want that to stay out of this courtroom.”

The U.S. State Department has listed Greener as illegally detained. The Biden administration has offered to trade a convicted Russian arms dealer in exchange for Greener and another American detainee, Paul Whelan, CNN previously reported.
After the verdict, Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas, tweet“Today’s sentencing of Brittney Griner is harsh by Russian legal standards and demonstrates what we have known all along, Brittney was used as a political pawn.”
In a statement, President Joe Biden called the verdict “unacceptable” and demanded that she be returned to the United States to be reunited with her family.

This is what will happen next for Greener as she awaits an appeal from her lawyers while the U.S. continues to negotiate her release.

Lawyers to appeal ‘unreasonable’ verdict

According to her attorney Alexander Boykov and Maria Blagovolina, a partner at the law firm Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin and Partners, Griner’s legal team will appeal the court’s decision, which they must do within 10 days of the verdict.

“We are very disappointed with the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe the court should be fair to everyone, regardless of nationality. The court completely disregarded all evidence for the defence and, most importantly, a guilty plea,” they said in a statement .

They called the verdict “absolutely unreasonable” and insisted in a statement that it “contradicts existing legal practice in Russia.”

Defence experts say checks for substances in Brittney Griner's e-cigarettes violate Russian law

Blago Wallina told reporters that the average jail time for such crimes is five years, adding that nearly one-third of those convicted are released on parole.

During the trial, lawyers argued that Greener’s detention was mishandled. Griner testified that she was forced to sign documents she did not fully understand and that she was not given adequate Russian translations of documents.

A defense expert also testified that inspections of vape cartridges containing cannabis oil did not comply with Russian law.

US proposes prisoner swap in exchange for Greener’s return

Last week, CNN reported that the Biden administration had proposed a prisoner swap, offering to replace a convicted Russian arms dealer with Greener and Whelan. Whelan, a US citizen and former Marine, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2018 on espionage charges after a trial the US deemed unfair.

After Greener was sentenced, National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said it was up to the Russian side whether the sentence would open the door to negotiations on a prisoner swap.

Joe Biden calls Britney Greener verdict 'unacceptable'
Multiple sources familiar with the discussions told CNN that after the U.S. proposed a prisoner swap, Russia fought back, demanding the release of convicted murderer Vadim Krasikoff. The U.S. did not see the counterattack as a legitimate offer, in part because the request was made through informal, covert channels.

Kirby reiterated Thursday that the U.S. position remains that it wants Russia to “put this deal on the table because it’s a good, fair one that will help bring Paul (Whelan) and Britney to the table. go home.”

While U.S. officials have long opposed the prisoner trade, the successful release of Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine held in Russia, has drawn bipartisan praise from lawmakers and is considered a Biden administration Political victory.

Family and supporters continue to fight for her return

The exchange offer came after months of pressure from Greener’s family and members of the basketball community.

The star’s wife, Cherelle Griner, has been outspoken that she wants more substantial action from U.S. officials to bring her wife home. Days after Cheryl Greener expressed her dissatisfaction in an interview with CNN, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called her to reassure her that they were committed, according to the White House. to secure the release of her wife. call reading.

Griner also has solid support from her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury, as well as other members of the basketball community.

Before Thursday night’s game between the Mercury and the Connecticut Suns, members of both teams held hands in the center of the court and observed a 42-second silence for Greener, who was wearing No. 42. When it was over, the crowd started chanting: “Take her home! Take her home!”

CNN’s Allie Malloy, Chris Liakos, Natasha Bertrand, Frederik Pleitgen, Eric Levenson, Dakin Andone, Travis Caldwell, Jill Martin, Betsy Klein, Kate Sullivan and MJ Lee contributed to this report.

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