MOSCOW, Russia — A Russian court set Oct. 25 as the date for WNBA star Brittney Griner’s appeal against her nine-year prison sentence for drug possession.
Griner, an eight-time all-star center with the Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
The Moscow region court said it will hear her appeal.
Griner, a Houston native and former Baylor star, played for a women's basketball team in Yekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason.
Lawyer Maria Blagovolina was quoted by Russian news agencies back on Aug. 15 saying the appeal was filed, but the grounds of the appeal were not immediately clear.
Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage, but said she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent. Her defense team presented written statements that she had been prescribed cannabis to treat pain.
Before her conviction, the US State Department declared Griner to be “wrongfully detained.” She was also fined 1 million rubles or about $16,700.
U.S. President Joe Biden denounced the verdict and sentence as “unacceptable.”
“I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” Biden said, adding that he would continue to work to bring home Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction.
He met with family members for Griner and Whelan back in September in the first face-to-face encouter the president has had with the relatives.