Brittney Griner “does not anticipate miracles” at her Tuesday, October 25 appeal hearing against a nine-year Russian prison sentence for possessing cannabis oil in her baggage, her attorneys said in a statement.
The two-time Olympic gold winner was detained at a Moscow airport on February 17 with cannabis oil-containing vape cartridges, which are illegal in Russia. On August 4, she was sentenced to nine years in a prison colony for cocaine possession and smuggling.
Griner’s attorneys, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, stated that she will participate in Tuesday’s hearing via video connection from the detention center where she is being kept, and that they anticipated a judgement to be rendered on the same day.
“She is really anxious as she awaits the appeal hearing. Brittney does not anticipate a miracle, but she hopes the appeals court will consider the defense’s arguments and decrease her sentence,” they added.
At her trial, Griner pled guilty but said she had committed a “honest mistake” and had not intended to breach the law.
The United States has offered to trade Griner for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer now serving a 25-year jail sentence in the United States.
Moscow has also shown interest in a prisoner exchange.
Former US ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who visited Moscow in September, believes Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan might be released before the end of the year. On Tuesday, a US consulate officer spoke briefly with both inmates via telephone.
Ned Price, a spokeswoman for the US Department of State, stated that Washington was attempting to liberate Griner and Whelan and that there had been “active negotiations, especially in the past several days.”
Price told reporters at a press briefing, “We have not commented on the different legal cases and judicial actions because, as we have made clear, we feel that these proceedings have been mostly chaotic.”