U.S. basketball star Griner urges Russian court to reduce her sentence, apologises

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U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner appears in court via video link in Krasnogorsk

KRASNOGORSK, Russia (Reuters) – U.S. WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner on Tuesday urged Russian appeal judges to reduce her nine-year jail sentence for possession and smuggling of drugs in the form of cannabis oil used in vapes.

Griner was permitted to make a final statement by live video link from her detention centre in the town of Novoye Grishino, just outside Moscow, to the judges at the appeal court in Krasnogorsk near the capital.

Griner said how stressful her eight-month detention and two trials had been, adding: “I was barely over the significant amount [of cannabis oil] … People with more severe crimes have gotten less than what I was given.”

She apologised for her mistake, as she had at her original trial, saying “I did not intend to do this”, and asking the court to take into account the fact that she had pleaded guilty.

(Reporting by Filipp Lebedev and Olesya Astakhova; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)