Brittney Griner ‘does not expect miracles’ at appeal over Russia sentence | Brittney Griner

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US basketball star Brittney Griner “does not expect miracles” at her appeal hearing on on Tuesday against a nine-year Russian jail term on drug charges, her lawyers said in a statement.

The Olympic champion was arrested in February at a Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. She was sentenced in August to nine years in a penal colony on charges of possessing and smuggling drugs.

Griner’s lawyers, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said she would take part in Tuesday’s hearing by video link from the detention centre where she has been held, and that they expected a verdict the same day.

“She is very nervous waiting for the appeal hearing. Brittney does not expect any miracles to happen but hopes that the appeal court will hear the arguments of the defense and reduce the term,” they said.

Griner pleaded guilty at her trial but said she had made an “honest mistake” and did not mean to break the law.

The US government says Griner is wrongfully detained and has offered to exchange her for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States. Moscow has also suggested it is open to a prisoner swap.

Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations who travelled to Moscow in September, has said he believes Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan could both be released by the end of the year. A US consular officer spoke briefly on the phone with both detainees last Tuesday.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said there had been “active discussions, including in recent days” to free Griner and Whelan.

“We have not weighed in on the various judicial proceedings and judicial steps because as we’ve made clear, we believe that these proceedings have been largely shambolic,” Price told reporters at a press briefing.

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