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In early August, Brittney Griner was found guilty of drug charges in Russia and sentenced to nine years in prison. She pled guilty to the charges one month prior, and now she’s concerned she’ll have to serve her full sentence.
Unlike America, where releasing prisoners back on the street before they serve their full sentences is becoming common practice, Russia rarely releases prisoners early. Typically, a prisoner swap has to be put in place for an early release.
Given the fact that President Joe Biden and the White House have dragged their feet with regard to Russian authorities treating Griner as a political pawn, the WNBA star is worried she may not be freed from prison early.
“She is not yet absolutely convinced that America will be able to take her home,” Griner’s lawyer, Alexandr D. Boykov told The New York Times after speaking with her on Tuesday. “She is very worried about what the price of that will be, and she is afraid that she will have to serve the whole sentence here in Russia.”
Brittney Griner’s Concerns More Than Warranted
President Biden admitted on Wednesday that there had been no progress made with Russian president Vladimir Putin regarding Griner’s case. Earlier in the week, the President said he’ll only talk to Putin at a Group of 20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia scheduled for next month.
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White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, spoke earlier this month about Griner’s detainment implying that they’re in negotiations.
“We need to see a serious counteroffer,” she said, referring to a potential prisoner swap to free Griner.
The WNBA star was arrested in February at an airport in Moscow when customs officials said she was carrying vape cartridges containing hash oil. When Griner pleaded guilty to the drug charges, she explained she had “packed in a hurry.” She is in her ninth month of detention in Russia.
The hearing for Griner’s appeal is scheduled for October 25. Boykov is hopeful his client’s “unprecedented punishment” will be reduced given her admissions of guilt and personality traits.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris