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Russian Court Upholds Brittney Griner’s Conviction

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(CNN) — A judge in Russia has left Brittney Griner's verdict in place, upholding on Tuesday the US basketball star's conviction on drug smuggling charges and reducing only slightly her nine-year prison sentence.Griner's sentence will be modified to count the time she spent in pre-trial detention after her February 17 arrest at a Moscow airport, the judge ruled, with each day in pre-trial custody counting as 1.5 days toward her prison sentence.

It was not immediately clear by exactly how much that would reduce the sentence.The decision came after an appeal hearing Tuesday at which Griner again apologized as she and her attorneys asked the court for a more lenient sentence, arguing the verdict was unfair and unjustified under Russian law.

The attorneys urged the court to acquit her, calling her sentence disproportionate and the previous court ruling wrong in saying Griner had criminal intent."I've been here almost eight months, and people with more severe crimes have been given less than what I was given," Griner said Tuesday, appearing at the hearing via video link from her detention center, Correctional Colony No.

1 in Novoye Grishino, north of Moscow.The decision means the "legal process (is) basically over," defense attorney Alexander Boykov, of the Moscow Legal Center, told CNN in anticipation of the result.Griner, a two-time US Olympic gold medalist, had been concerned she would have to serve out the remainder of her sentence in Russia if her appeal was unsuccessful and if the United States and Russia can't strike a deal for a prisoner swap, he said.The US State Department has maintained Griner is wrongfully detained, and her case has prompted concern that she is being used as a political pawn amid the backdrop of.

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