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Brittney Griner’s lawyer says WNBA star fears she’ll never be released from Russian jail

Basketball star Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison for drug possession, is increasingly nervous about being released, her lawyer has said.

Griner was in Russia to compete during the WNBA offseason when Russian authorities said she had vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage while traveling to a Moscow airport in February.

The Biden administration has reportedly discussed a possible prisoner swap to free her with another American held in a Russian prison, Paul Whelan. But Griner’s attorney, Alexandr D. Boykov, said he spoke to her on Tuesday and she was far from hopeful.

“She’s still not absolutely convinced that America can bring her home,” Boykov said in an interview with The New York Times. “She is very worried about the price it will cost and she is afraid that she will have to serve all her sentence here in Russia.”

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WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted out of a courtroom after a hearing in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia August 4, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

Another growing concern for Griner is the state of the prison she could end up in, Boykov noted. She said she is only outside once a day and is forced to spend the rest of her time in a small cell with two other prisoners.

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In August, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison. His appeal, which the United States has called “another sham legal proceeding”, is scheduled for October 25.

American basketball star Brittney Griner in a Russian prison.

American basketball star Brittney Griner in a Russian prison.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

Prior to the appeals court hearing, Boykov requested that the sentence be reduced.

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“Perhaps the verdict will be changed in some way and, perhaps, the sentence will be reduced, because the decision taken by the first court is very different from the judicial practice,” he said. -he declares. “Given all the circumstances, given my client’s personality traits and her admission of guilt, such a verdict should be absolutely impossible.”

The United States contends that Griner’s conviction and trial were politically motivated.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted into a courtroom for a hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia July 7, 2022.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted into a courtroom for a hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia July 7, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Griner’s arrest has been a topic of discussion among other athletes, especially female professional basketball players.

It has become common for WNBA stars to travel overseas to Russia to play for teams owned by oligarchs. The players’ motivation to play in Russia? Much higher salaries than what they typically earn in the United States

Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot have all previously said they have refused to travel to Russia this offseason.

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As an incentive for players to stay home, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said top players could earn up to $700,000 this year between base salary, marketing deals and bonuses.

US authorities have said they are continuing to work to arrange Griner’s release and have previously designated her as “wrongfully detained”.

Griner is an eight-time All-Star and a two-time Olympic gold medalist.