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Russian Court Hears Griner Appeal

A Russian court on Tuesday began hearing an appeal by U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner against a nine-year jail term for having cannabis oil in her luggage.

Griner participated in the hearing via video link from a detention center outside of Moscow.

The twice Olympic gold medalist was arrested February 17 at a Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is banned in Russia. She was sentenced August 4 to nine years in a penal colony on charges of possessing and smuggling drugs.

“She is very nervous waiting for the appeal hearing,” Griner’s lawyers, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said ahead of Tuesday’s session. “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.”

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

The United States says Griner was 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.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters

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