Brittney Griner’s Lawyers File Appeal Against Nine-Year Russian Prison Sentence

by Bryan Fyalkowski

On August 4, Brittney Griner was found guilty on charges of drug possession and smuggling and sentenced to nine years in prison. According to the Associated Press – now 11 days after the verdict – her defense team has officially started the appeal process.

The grounds for appeal are not immediately apparent. However, lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov have argued that Griner’s sentence was too severe. They say that in similar Russian cases there is an average sentence of five years, while about a third of them receive parole.

There is currently no known timetable for the appeal.

Former Marine Comments on Brittney Griner’s Health

Trevor Reed is a U.S. Marine who was arrested for assaulting a Russian police officer. They sentenced him to nine years in a labor camp before the United States negotiated his release nearly three years later. Reed appeared on CNN last week to discuss Griner’s challenges moving forward and mentioned the possibility of an appeal.

“If she chooses not to go to appeals, they may transfer her to a forced labor camp,” Reed explained. “Because the Russian government is considering exchanging her, they may also decide to leave her in Moscow. [It would] make it easier for her to be returned to the United States.”

Reed talked about the poor conditions and hazards of the “medieval” labor camps, citing his own harrowing experiences. He said Griner faces severe malnutrition in a place without medical oversight. The camps also run rampant with Tuberculosis, COVID-19 and other crippling diseases.

Lawyer Shares Update on Client’s Overall Well-Being

In the days after the verdict and sentencing, you could imagine Brittney Griner is not in good spirits. Blagovolina shared an update on her client to reporters covering the trial.

“She is very upset, very stressed,” Blagovolina said at the time. “She can hardly talk, honestly. It’s a difficult time for her.”

She continued: “When we saw Brittney on Tuesday, we told her, ‘See you on Thursday’. And she said, ‘See you on doomsday.’ And it looks like she was right.”