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Brittney Griner can hardly talk prepares to appeal pot sentence before sent to Russian penal colony

Brittney Griner’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina has said her client, the WNBA star, is “very upset” and “barely able to talk” after Thursday’s conviction that sent her nine years in a penal colony.

“She is very upset, very stressed,” Blagovolina told reporters. ‘She can hardly speak, to be honest. So it’s a difficult time for her.’

“When we saw Brittney, I think it was Tuesday, we said to her, ‘See you Thursday’. And she said, ‘See you on Judgment Day,’ so it looks like she was right,” Blagovolina said.

Basketball player Brittney Griner faces a defendant’s cage on Thursday before the court’s ruling at the Khimki City court in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia on Thursday

Brittney Griner's lawyer Maria Blagovolina has said her client, the WNBA star, is

Brittney Griner’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina has said her client, the WNBA star, is “very upset” and “barely able to talk” after Thursday’s conviction that sent her nine years in a penal colony.

1659666829 926 Brittney Griner can hardly talk prepares to appeal pot sentence

“She is very upset, very stressed,” Blagovolina told reporters. ‘She can hardly speak, to be honest. So it’s a difficult time for her.’

Griner’s lawyers plan to appeal the verdict and she now had 10 days to do so, with a hearing expected next week.

Of the 692 prisons in Russia, 684 are penal colonies described as a “settlement established for the punishment of criminals through forced labor and isolation from society.”

Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader, lawyer and anti-corruption activist is currently serving his sentence in a penal colony he has described as a “friendly concentration camp,” with cameras “everywhere.”

On Thursday night, the head coach of Griner’s WNBA team said the nine-year sentence handed out to his star player was devastating – though it came as no surprise.

Russian prosecutors have demanded that American basketball star Brittney Griner be sentenced to nine and a half years for drug smuggling

Russian prosecutors have demanded that American basketball star Brittney Griner be sentenced to nine and a half years for drug smuggling

Griner sits in a defendant's cage for the court's ruling at the Khimki City Court in Khimki outside Moscow

Griner sits in a defendant’s cage for the court’s ruling at the Khimki City Court in Khimki outside Moscow

“We knew this was coming, we were prepared for it,” said Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard, pointing to the minuscule acquittal rates in Russian courts where Griner was convicted of smuggling drugs into the country.

“We know we didn’t pin our hopes on the Russian justice system.

“But we were literally getting ready to come out for the shooting today when this was going on,” she said. “Players watched it.”

She said it was hard to focus on Thursday night’s WNBA game against the Connecticut Sun.

“Emotions have escalated throughout the day,” Nygaard said. “We are going out to play this game, but how can we focus on this game? It’s such an emotional day for us.’

Not for the first time, Nygaard suggested that if Griner wasn’t a black, gay woman, she wouldn’t still be wrongly detained in Russia.

Brittney Griner, two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA player, is escorted to hear the court's ruling in Khimki City court

Brittney Griner, two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA player, is escorted to hear the court’s ruling in Khimki City court

Khimki's court has sentenced Griner to nine years in prison after finding her guilty of drug smuggling charges.

Khimki’s court has sentenced Griner to nine years in prison after finding her guilty of drug smuggling charges.

Griner is pictured being escorted into court to hear the court's final decision in Khimki outside Moscow

Griner is pictured being escorted into court to hear the court’s final decision in Khimki outside Moscow

“We know Tom Brady wouldn’t be in Russia, so the comparison that way is hard to see,” Nygaard said, citing superstar NFL quarterback Tom Brady.

But Nygaard praised the “enormous” efforts of US President Joe Biden and his administration in seeking the release of Griner and those of other Americans believed to be wrongfully held in Russia.

“What I do know is that our administration has really rallied with BG and all other Americans — we’re learning a lot more about Americans who have been wrongfully detained internationally than ever before,” she said.

“I know there are many other families who experience this feeling as well.”

Attention now turns to the prospect of a prisoner swap between the United States and Russia that could bring her home.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken went public with that possibility last week, revealing in an unusual announcement that the US had made a “substantial proposal” to secure the release of Griner and another imprisoned American, Paul Whelan.

Such a deal — assuming one can be struck with the Russians — is Griner’s best shot at being released early.

President Biden immediately denounced the verdict, claiming that Russia had

President Biden immediately denounced the verdict, claiming that Russia had “wrongly” detained her

Griner with wife Cherelle, who has been begging for help from the White House for months

Griner with wife Cherelle, who has been begging for help from the White House for months

While the conviction was seen as a foregone conclusion, imposing a sentence that its lawyers judged to be much longer than average could give the US additional incentive to close a deal that is palatable to Russia as soon as possible. And the formal end to the lawsuit could be the opening that both sides need to forge a diplomatic solution as well.

Blinken did not specify the terms other than to describe the offer as substantial and something he intended to discuss with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

A person familiar with the situation said the US offered to release Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison sentence on charges of colluding to sell tens of millions of dollars worth of weapons to the former Colombian FARC. guerrilla army.

At the time of his conviction, the group was classified by the US as a foreign terrorist organization, although that designation was revoked last year.

The officials ended up with each other by phone last Friday, the highest known contact between the two sides since Russia invaded Ukraine.

They are also in Cambodia for meetings with foreign ministers of Southeast Asian countries.

There was speculation that Griner would be released as part of a prisoner swap in exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was arrested in the US in 2010.

There was speculation that Griner would be released as part of a prisoner swap in exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was arrested in the US in 2010.

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