Brittney Griner meets with US Embassy officials as they work to secure her release
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US officials say former WNBA star Brittney Griner is doing ‘as well as can be expected’ after meeting with her today.
Griner is currently serving a nine-year sentence in a Russian prison for drug smuggling after cops at Moscow Airport found cannabis oil cartridges in her luggage back in February.
During her trial, Griner told the court she had made ‘an honest mistake’ and had no intentions of breaking the law.
Following her sentencing in August, 32-year-old Griner’s legal team launched a bid for an appeal, which was rejected last month.
Today’s meeting is the first time Griner has been able to speak to US officials face-to-face since her appeal was rejected.
Speaking after the meeting, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters: “We are told she is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances.”
Despite her appealing being rejected, officials have said they will continue to push for her release.
In a tweet Ned Price, a spokesperson for the US State Department, confirmed the meeting went ahead, writing that US Embassy officials in Russia had 'visited Brittney Griner today'.
He said: "They saw firsthand her tenacity and perseverance despite her present circumstances.
"We continue to press for the immediate release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan and fair treatment for every detained American."
The White House has said its attempts to have Griner released have so far been unsuccessful - the US had offered Russia a trade, in which the country would release Griner, Paul Whelan and another US citizen in exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving time in a prison in America.
Jean-Pierre said: "As we have said before, the US government made a significant offer to the Russians to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions of American citizens Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.”
Jean-Pierre said that in recent weeks ‘despite a lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians, the US government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with Russians through all available means’.
She went on to stress that Griner’s release was a ‘top priority’.
Speaking after her appeal bid was rejected on 25 October, Griner's legal team told ESPN they believed the sentence to be ‘excessive’.
Her lawyer said: "The verdict contains numerous defects and we hoped that the court of appeal would take them into consideration. We still think the punishment is excessive and contradicts the existing court practice."