An appeals court in Moscow has upheld Brittney Griner's nine-year prison sentence on drug smuggling charges, effectively sending the WNBA star to serve the remainder of her sentence in a Russian prison colony, reports NPR.
Ahead of the hearing, Griner’s lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov released a statement about her chances for an appeal.
"Brittney does not expect any miracles to happen but hopes that the appeal court will hear the arguments of the defense and reduce the term," the statement read.
The statement added that while Griner was "prepared for the appeal," she was "very nervous" about the potential ruling.
Since February of this year, Griner has been detained in Russia. After her trial, she was sentenced to 9 years in prison and fined 1 million rubles, which equals $16,400. At the time, the sentence was seen as a formality to accelerate the negotiation process between the United States and Russia to bring her home.
During the hearing, the Russian court claimed that Griner deliberately committed the crime and rejected her request for leniency.
Griner's legal team has argued that the sentence was extremely harsh, even for the legal standards of Russia.
Over the summer, The White House and the Kremlin have communicated about Griner’s release and reportedly offered to swap notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for the return of Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan. According to the White House, Moscow has not issued a serious counteroffer.
On Tuesday morning, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan released a statement that the White House is committed to making "every effort to bring home Brittney as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia, including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan."
"President Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately," the statement read. "In recent weeks, the Biden-Harris Administration has continued to engage with Russia through every available channel.
"The President has demonstrated that he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths and make tough decisions to bring Americans home, as his Administration has done successfully from countries around the world,” the statement continued.
Griner's lawyers said that she is dealing with the horrid situation as best as she can.
"Brittney is a very strong person and has a champion's character," her lawyers explained. "However, she, of course, has her highs and lows as she is severely stressed being separated from her loved ones for over eight months."
Griner thanked everyone for their support over the last eight months of her detainment.
"Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home," she said. "All the support and love are definitely helping me."
Griner will now be imprisoned in one of Russia's infamous penal colonies to serve out her sentence.