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Brittney Griner’s legal team plan to appeal Russian court verdict

Brittney Griner‘s lawyer Maria Blagovolina has indicated that the WNBA star’s team will appeal the court’s decision to sentence her to nine years in jail.

Griner was arrested back in February by the customs officials at an airport near Moscow for cannabis oil possession, and the verdict was made known on Thursday.

“We are very disappointed and very upset by this verdict,” Blagovolina told PEOPLE.

“Sentences for this article of the criminal court, they usually not so severe. Usually, it’s like five and a half or six years.

“So nine years, it’s pretty unusual, and it contradicts the existing court practice in Russia.

“That’s why we are really disappointed and very much surprised by this decision by the court.

“We need to use every legal opportunity that we have, and appeal is one of these opportunities.”

Alexander Boykov, another member of Griner‘s legal team, has revealed that the appeal process could take months.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has reportedly offered to Russia a prisoner exchange, with the CNN claiming that they were open to trade Griner and former marine Paul Whelan for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” US president Joe Biden said in the statement.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”

Boykov told PEOPLE that should the two countries reach an agreement, the appeal will be dropped by Griner‘s legal team.

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