Brittney Griner’s 9-year prison sentence in Russia has been upheld. A a court just denied the WNBA star’s appeal at a lengthy hearing on Tuesday morning.
Griner did not appear in person for the proceedings, but was present via a videoconferencing feed from inside of a cell. She appeared to be downtrodden throughout the process as cameras caught her both sitting and standing behind bars.
Griner and her team of attorneys had hoped officials would overturn a previous ruling in the case, or at the very least, reduce the sentence. They argued the punishment did not fit the crime.
Griner’s legal team had anticipated this outcome. On Monday, her attorneys admitted in a statement that they did not “expect any miracles to happen.”
Griner has been in custody in Russia since February, after she was accused of bringing hashish oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. At her trial, she pleaded guilty to the charges, but insisted she did not intend to break the law. She was sentenced in August.
The United States has called Griner wrongfully detained. Multiple U.S. officials have said they’ve offered Russia a significant deal involving a prisoner swap to get her home.
President Joe Biden, meanwhile, said in a statement back in August following her sentence that he and his administration would “continue to work tirelessly” to bring her back to U.S. soil.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan released a statement after the sentence was upheld.
“We are aware of the news out of Russia that Brittney Griner will continue to be wrongfully detained under intolerable circumstances after having to undergo another sham judicial proceeding today. President Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately,” the statement read.
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner. Photo courtsey of AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File