American basketball star Brittney Griner also convicted on appeal in Russia

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American basketball star Brittney Griner

A Russian court has upheld the nine-year prison sentence handed to American basketball star Brittney Griner for drug possession, rejecting her appeal.

The American top basketball player Brittney Griner has also been sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court on appeal. The judge thus upholds the previously imposed sentence.

Griner was arrested at Moscow airport in February for carrying cannabis oil, available in drugstores in the Netherlands as CBD oil, in e-cigarette refills. The 32-year-old star of the American women's league has always stated that she did not know she was breaking the law.

In a statement, she said she had been given cannabis oil in the United States for pain relief but had accidentally put it in her purse in her haste. She had flown to Moscow because she was going to play for the Russian team UMMC Yekaterinburg between the American basketball seasons.

Brittney Griner was present in court via video link on Tuesday

Griner's lawyers believe that the nine-year prison sentence is disproportionately high, as she had no criminal intentions. The Russian judge does not agree. The maximum prison sentence in Russia for drug possession is ten years.

Griner, who was present in court via video link, is one of the best basketball players in the world. She has won gold twice in the Olympics and is a key player for Phoenix Mercury in the American Women's League (WNBA).

US President Joe Biden previously called the conviction "unacceptable" and called on Russia to release her as soon as possible. Last summer, an attempt was made at a prisoner exchange between Russia and the United States, but the attempt came to nothing. Griner's lawyers still hold out hope for a prisoner swap.

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