In her attempt to return to the United States, WNBA star Brittney Griner received further sad news from a Russian court.
According to The New York Times, a Russian appeals court rejected her request to review the nine-and-a-half-year sentence she received for possessing marijuana-vape pens:
A Russian court on Tuesday upheld the American basketball star Brittney Griner’s sentence on drug smuggling charges, clearing the way for her to serve nine years in a penal colony unless the U.S. government can negotiate a deal for her release. Ms. Griner’s lawyers said before the hearing on Tuesday that she did “not expect any miracles to happen,” but that she was hopeful that the three-judge panel of the appeals court in Krasnogorsk, near Moscow, would reduce her sentence.
While the court’s decision means Ms. Griner will begin serving her sentence soon, it was not immediately clear if her legal options were exhausted.
There are two higher courts above the appellate division, culminating in the Supreme Court, but Ms. Griner’s lawyers have yet to confirm whether they will take the case any further. But the higher courts in Russia are not known for negating lower court decisions the way they are in the United States.
"Brittney is a very strong person and has a champion's character," her attorneys said on Monday. "She of course has her highs and lows as she is severely stressed being separated from her loved ones for over eight months."
According to a close aid to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Yury Ushakov, the push for the basketball players' return might be tied to the elections.
"In this tense situation, I think that he (Biden) is thinking first and foremost about the upcoming midterm elections," he said." the Russian said.
"He keeps emphasizing the need to bring (Griner) back home … however, it's not the main issue that we are concerned about," Ushakov said.
President Joe Biden delivered further disappointing news to Griner, informing her that no steps had been taken to bring her back to the United States.
When asked if he had any plans to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 conference on Wednesday, the president responded in this way, according to Newsweek.
"Look, I have no intention of meeting with him," he said in an interview. "But, for example, if he came to me at the G20 and said, 'I want to talk about the release of Griner,' I would meet with him."