*Brittney Griner is said to be understandably stressed and depressed more than a month after she was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison for drug smuggling.
The WNBA star’s lawyer is speaking out as Griner waits for a start date on her appeal process. She also remains hopeful about a possible prisoner exchange, PEOPLE reports.
“Brittney is stressed and very much concerned with the future,” her lawyer Maria Blagovolina told the outlet.
As we reported previously, Griner faced up to 10 years in jail for the drug possession charge. As reported by CNN, prior to sentencing, the two-time Olympic gold medalist apologized to the court and asked for leniency.
“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said in the Khimki city courthouse, near Moscow. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom.
“I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime,” she added.
President Joe Biden reacted immediately after her 9-year sentence was handed down, saying: “Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”
Nearly a month after her Aug. 15, sentencing, Griner is still waiting to learn what day the appeal hearings will start. Once it begins, the process is expected to take months. Blagovolina previously told PEOPLE that it’s likely their appeal won’t be successful.
“We need to use every legal opportunity that we have, and appeal is one of these opportunities,” she said.
Biden said the White House will pursue “every possible avenue” to bring Griner home, including the possibility of a prisoner exchange between Griner and “Paul Whelan, another American imprisoned in Russia, for a not-yet-named Russian prisoner held in the U.S.,” per PEOPLE.
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