Aug 15, 2022 - World

Brittney Griner's legal team appeals verdict on drug charges in Russia

Brittney Griner waits for the verdict inside a defendants' cage during a hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022
Brittney Griner waits for the verdict inside a defendants' cage during a hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on Aug. 4. Photo: Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Brittney Griner's legal team has filed an appeal against the verdict reached this month by a Russian court, which sentenced the WNBA star to nine years in prison, CNN reports.

Driving the news: The grounds of the appeal, which could take up to three months to be adjudicated, were not immediately clear, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The appeal comes amid conversations with Russia about a potential prisoner swap to secure the release of Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.

  • Russia last week confirmed for the first time that it is negotiating with the U.S. about a potential prisoner exchange.
  • "The discussion of the quite sensitive topic of prisoner exchange of Russian and American citizens has been ongoing along the channels set out by the two presidents," Alexander Darchiev, the director of the North American department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, told TASS, a state news agency, per the Times.

Catch up quick: Whelan was arrested in Moscow in 2018 for allegedly possessing classified information. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020.

  • Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after Russian authorities said they found a vape cartridge with hashish oil in her luggage.

Go deeper ... Russia confirms prisoner swap negotiations are underway for Griner, Whelan

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