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Brittney Griner's Defense Team Appeals Her Conviction in Russia

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(CNN) — Brittney Griner's legal team has filed an appeal against a Russian court's verdict sentencing the WNBA star to nine years in prison for smuggling drugs into Russia, Griner's lawyer told CNN on Monday, days after the Russian government confirmed for the first time discussions about a potential prisoner swap involving a convicted Russian arms dealer.The US State Department maintains Griner is wrongfully detained, and her case has raised concerns she is being used as a political pawn in Russia's war against Ukraine.

US officials have offered a potential prisoner swap to try to bring her home safely.Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout's name has been mentioned in bilateral talks between Moscow and Washington over a prisoner swap involving Griner and American Paul Whelan, the Russian Foreign Ministry's North American Department director, Alexander Darchiev, told Russian state media TASS on Saturday."This quite sensitive issue of the swap of convicted Russian and US citizens is being discussed through the channels defined by our Presidents.

These individuals are, indeed, being discussed. The Russian side has long been seeking the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to professionals, proceeding from the 'do not harm' principle," Darchiev said in response to a request for comment on US news reports that US officials had sent a proposal to Moscow on swapping Bout for Griner and Whelan, TASS reported.The US government "continues to urge Russia to release wrongful detainees Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan," a US State Department spokesperson said Monday. "As Secretary (of State Antony) Blinken said, 'There was a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release.'""We will not go into detail.

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