Brittney Griner's drug smuggling conviction was upheld after a Russian court denied her appeal on Tuesday, Good Morning America reports. Griner is currently facing a nine-year sentence after pleading guilty in July.
Griner appeared on a video call for her appeal hearing and pleaded with the court to reassess the length of her sentence, noting that people convicted of similar crimes were given shorter sentences. Griner reasserted that the vape cartridges containing cannabis oil found in her luggage were there mistakenly, and she did not intend to smuggle them.
"I beg that the court takes in all of the stakes that was overlooked in the first court and reassess my sentence here," Griner said.
Griner, a professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury, was in Russia to play during the WNBA offseason. She was arrested at the airport in Khimki as she was arriving on Feb.17. She was detained for over five months before being found guilty in a Moscow court on Aug 4.
Her case has caused speculation that she and other American prisoners in Russia could be used as political pawns in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, per CNN.
In a press statement released following the denial of her appeal, the White House reiterated its commitment to securing Griner's eventual release:
"In recent weeks, the Biden-Harris Administration has continued to engage with Russia through every available channel and make every effort to bring home Brittney as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia, including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan."