if Britney Greiner He’ll be back in the US anytime soon, almost certainly through a prisoner exchange.
The imprisoned NBA star exhausted her last legal options on Tuesday when her latest appeal went nowhere.
Moscow regional court upheld Greiner was indicted in August on charges of drug possession and drug smuggling with criminal intent. The court rejected arguments made by Greiner’s lawyers that the nine-year prison sentence was excessive and unjustified under Russian law.
Greiner took part in Tuesday’s appeal hearing via video call from behind white bars in her cell at a detention center outside Moscow. She has been held there since last February when she traveled to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport and Russian police allegedly found cannabis oil cartridges in her bag.
Many of the arguments Griner’s attorneys presented during Tuesday’s appeal hearing mirror those of her trial. Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov argued that the initial conviction and sentence completely ignored that Greiner was carrying less than one gram of cannabis oil, that she had no intention of breaking Russian law and that she used the substance for medicinal purposes.
At the end of Tuesday’s hearing, Greiner spoke directly to the court. Greiner described the separation from her family as “painful” and begged the court to take into account what was “overlooked” during the first court date and to “re-evaluate her sentence”.
Those words fell on deaf ears, just as on August 4 when a Russian judge handed down a sentence shy of the maximum allowable 10 years. In a statement to the media after Tuesday’s hearing, Blagovolina and Boykov said they were “deeply disappointed” and reiterated that they “continue to believe that the sentence was excessive and inconsistent with current court practices.”
“Britney’s biggest fear is that she will not be exchanged and will have to serve her entire sentence in Russia,” a statement from Greiner’s attorney said.
Within hours of Greener’s appeal hearing, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan slammed it as a “sham judicial proceeding.” Sullivan said the Biden administration “continued to engage with Russia through all available channels and do its utmost to bring Britney home as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia, including unlawful detainee Paul Whelan.”
Since the appeals court rejected Greiner’s appeal and upheld the lower court’s initial ruling, the eight-time WNBA star may soon have to endure an even worse place than the Novoye Grishino pre-trial detention center where she has been held for the past eight months. Her sentence calls for her to be moved to a penal colony, where conditions can be more brutal and inmates are required to perform work during their sentence.
There are hundreds of penal colonies in Russia, many of which are spread across Siberia. Griner’s lawyers are expected to request that she be sent to a location near Moscow so they can stay in touch with her, but the final decision will not be theirs.
“This decision is not immediate and usually takes up to [a] a few months to [someone] They were convicted of moving them to another location.”
On the eve of the appeal hearing, Blagovolina and Boykov issued a statement calling Greiner “extremely nervous.” They added that “Britney does not expect any miracles, but she does hope that the appeals court will hear the arguments of the defense and reduce the number of years.”
Experts on Russian foreign policy have warned Greener not to get her hopes up. They have warned for months that her legal actions are just theatrics. They said his only real goal was to give a semblance of legitimacy to the Kremlin’s desire to retain it so that he could extract concessions from the United States in exchange for its safe return.
As Greiner’s lawyers argued on her behalf in the courtroom, the question of her fate was also discussed at the highest levels of US-Russian diplomacy. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken pressed his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to accept what happened Blinken described it as a “substantial proposal” to secure the release of Grenier and Paul Whelananother American considered unjustly detained by the US government.
The Griner and Whelan offer is believed to be a 2-for-1 swap for a notorious Russian arms dealer known as the “Dealer of Death”. Victor Pot He is serving a 25-year sentence in a federal prison in Illinois for conspiracy to kill Americans and selling weapons to Colombian terrorists.
So far, Russia has shown no indication that the exchange for Bout alone is a sufficient offer. After traveling to Moscow to meet with Russian officials last month, Bill Richardson, a former New Mexico governor and diplomat who now advocates for the release of Americans held abroad, told CNN: “I think it’s going to be 2 for 2.”
President Joe Biden met Grener’s wife at the White House last month He reiterated that securing the release of the WNBA star is a top priority of his administration. Days after that meeting, Cheryl Greiner told “CBS Mornings” that Greiner is experiencing “the weakest moment of her life right now” and is “too afraid to be left and forgotten in Russia.”
In their statement Monday, Griner’s attorneys acknowledged the damage her case has caused her.
They said, “Britney is very mentally strong and has the personality of a hero.” “However, she is of course experiencing highs and lows as she is exposed to an increased amount of stress and being separated from her loved ones.”