Brittney Griner's lawyers appeal her nine-year prison sentence
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Lawyers for basketball star Brittney Griner have filed an appeal after she was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Griner, 31, was sentenced earlier this month after being convicted of smuggling drugs into Russia when she travelled to the country to play basketball.
The athlete pleaded guilty to drug charges last month but insisted she 'never meant to hurt anybody', claiming she had accidentally packed cannabis oil into her bags while rushing to prepare for her trip.
Addressing the court prior to her sentencing, Griner said: "I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here. 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."
Judge Anna Sotnikova said the court had taken into account Griner's partial admission of guilt as well as her remorse over the situation as she handed down the sentence, which amounted to nine years in Russian prison and a fine of 1 million rubles (£13,500/$16,400).
Maria Blagovolina, one of the lawyers representing Griner, confirmed to CNN the team had filed an appeal against the sentence today (15 August).
Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, Griner's other lawyer, made clear they were going to file the appeal in a written statement issued immediately after the sentencing.
They wrote: "We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality. The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea.
"This contradicts the existing legal practice. Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is absolutely unreasonable. We will certainly file an appeal."
Boykov pointed out the average time in jail for crimes such as those committed by Griner is five years, and that almost a third of those convicted are sentenced to parole. Prosecutors had urged for the judge to sentence Griner to 9.5 years in jail.
Following her sentencing, Blagovolina said Griner would be returning to the Russian detention centre where she is being held.
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