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Brittney Griner Denied Appeal on 9-year Sentence in Russia

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Brittney Griner

On Tuesday, a Russian court dismissed Brittney Griner’s appeal of her 9-year prison sentence for drug charges, bringing her closer to a high-stakes prisoner swap between Moscow and Washington.

The Olympic gold medalist and 8time all-star center for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury was convicted on Aug. 4 after police said they seized vape canisters carrying cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Griner, 32, appeared via video link from a correctional colony outside the capital where she is being kept.

Griner admitted to having the CBD vape canisters in her suitcase during her trial but claimed she packed them accidentally in her rush to catch her trip and had no illegal intent.

Her defence team provided written declarations in which she stated that she had been prescribed cannabis to relieve chronic pain.

The 9-year sentence came close to Russia’s maximum of ten years, and Brittney Griner’s defenders contended that the punishment was disproportionate after his conviction.

In similar cases, they noted, defendants received an average sentence of around five years, with about a third given parole. While upholding the sentence, the court stated that Griner’s prison time would be revised to reflect her time in pre-trial detention.

One day in pre-trial custody will be counted as one and a half days in prison. Thus, she will still be sentenced to about eight years.

 Brittney Griner

Griner’s lawyers, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov wrote in an email that they were “extremely dissatisfied” with the judgment since “the punishment is harsh and defies normal court practice.”

“Brittney Griner’s greatest concern is that she will not be swapped and will have to complete the remainder of her sentence in Russia,” they wrote. “She had hoped for today because every month, every day away from her family and friends is important to her.”

They said they needed to consult Brittney Griner about the following legal actions.

Griner’s detention in February happened at a moment when Moscow and Washington were at odds, just days before Russia sent soldiers into Ukraine. Griner returned to Russia to play for a Russian team during the summer of the WNBA.

Biden warns Russia that nuclear weapons would be a “bad mistake.”

President Joe Biden cautioned Russia on Tuesday that using a tactical nuclear weapon would be an “extremely grave error.” He also stated that the White House is in “continuous touch” with Russian authorities for Brittney Griner’s release. (Oct. 25)

According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the decision is “another failure of justice, aggravating the unfairness of her confinement,” and “securing her release is our goal.”

 Brittney Griner

President Biden told reporters that the state department is in “continuous touch” with Russian authorities over Brittney Griner and the other Americans jailed in Russia.

While there has been no movement in getting her back to the United States, Biden stated, “We are not stopping.”

Before her conviction, the US State Department proclaimed Griner to have been “wrongfully held,” an accusation that Russia has categorically denied.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan states that Biden “is willing to go to tremendous lengths and make difficult judgments to bring Americans home.”

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert stated that the decision, “although regrettable, was not anticipated.” It’s time to put this case behind us and bring BG home.” According to the WNBA Players Association, the verdict “further validates that BG is not simply unfairly incarcerated — she is very certainly a hostage.”

Because the Biden administration is under increasing pressure to do more to bring Brittney Griner back home, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken revealed in July that the State Department had made a “substantial proposal” to bring Brittney Griner home, along with Paul Whelan, an American businessman serving a 16-years for espionage.

 Brittney Griner

Blinken did not clarify, but AP and other news outlets have reported that Washington has offered to swap Brittney Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, an arms dealer known as the “merchant of death,” captured in Thailand, serving a 25-year term in the United States.

The White House stated that it has yet to get a constructive response to the offer from Russia.

Russian officials have refused to comment on the US plan and asked Washington to debate the topic privately rather than publicly. However, some Russian officials have stated that a deal is more feasible when all appeals have been exhausted.

In September, Biden met with the wife of Brittney Griner, Cherelle Griner, and her agent, Lindsay Colas.

 Brittney Griner

Following the discussions, the White House stated that the president reiterated to the families of Brittney Griner and Paul his “continued commitment to working through all possible avenues to bring them home.

In April, the United States and Russia exchanged prisoners for the release of a Russian pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was convicted of a cocaine trafficking conspiracy; Moscow released US Marines veteran Trevor Reed.

Moscow has also advocated for releasing other Russians detained in the United States.

Alexander Vinnik, for example, has been accused of laundering billions through an illegal cryptocurrency exchange. Vinnik was apprehended in Greece in 2017 and extradited to the United States in August.

Last month, Vinnik’s French lawyer, Frederic Belot, informed the Russian publication Izvestia that his client wished to be involved in a future swap.

Another possible candidate, according to the publication, is Roman Seleznev, the son of a Russian legislator. In 2017, he was sentenced to 27 years in jail on charges related to a hacking and credit card fraud conspiracy.

Source: AP, VOR News

Geoff Thomas is a seasoned staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. With his sharp writing skills and deep understanding of SEO, he consistently delivers high-quality, engaging content that resonates with readers. Thomas' articles are well-researched, informative, and written in a clear, concise style that keeps audiences hooked. His ability to craft compelling narratives while seamlessly incorporating relevant keywords has made him a valuable asset to the VORNews team.

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Israel Finds The Body Of A Teen Whose Disappearance Sparked A Deadly Settler Attack In The West Bank

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Al-Muhayyir, West Bank – Israel’s army announced Saturday that the body of a missing Israeli adolescent was discovered in the West Bank after he was slain in a “terrorist attack,” as violence erupted across the Israeli-occupied area, where tensions have been building for months.

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Israel Finds The Body Of A Teen Whose Disappearance Sparked A Deadly Settler Attack In The West Bank

The disappearance of 14-year-old Binyamin Achimair prompted Israeli settlers to launch raids on Palestinian towns on Friday and Saturday. The attack on al-Mughayyir hamlet on Friday killed one Palestinian and injured 25 others, according to Palestinian health officials. According to witnesses, Israeli troops held up the ambulance transporting the 26-year-old man’s body for burial for several hours on Saturday.

On Saturday, dozens of Israeli settlers returned to the village’s outskirts, burning down 12 homes and many cars. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that three persons from the community were hurt, one gravely. Border police sprayed tear gas at the gathered locals, attempting to disperse them.

Israeli settlers set fire to many homes in the nearby village of Douma, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported six persons hurt by gunshots but did not specify who fired.

Since the Israel-Hamas conflict in nearby Gaza broke out on October 7 as a result of a Hamas assault on southern Israel that claimed the lives of about 1,200 people and kidnapped 250 more, tensions in the West Bank have been particularly high. According to Gaza health officials, the Israeli offensive has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians.

Since then, Hamas has attempted to spark new fronts, especially in the West Bank, to increase pressure on Israel. Even though Israeli fire has killed more than 460 Palestinians in the West Bank since October 7, the majority of them in clashes sparked by army operations, but some by vigilante settlers, such efforts have largely failed.

There was no immediate claim of blame for the death of the Israeli teenager.

israel

Israel Finds The Body Of A Teen Whose Disappearance Sparked A Deadly Settler Attack In The West Bank

According to Israeli media, the teenager was last seen leaving Malachi Shalom, a settlement outpost, early Friday to care for cattle nearby. According to reports, the sheep returned to the outpost many hours later without him.

According to Israel’s Channel 13 TV, a drone spotted Achimair’s body. The broadcaster stated that he was not shot but did not clarify.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denounced the incident. “We will get to the murderers and their accomplices as we do to anyone who harms the citizens of Israel,” he said in a statement released by his office.

The kidnapping and execution of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in 2014 fueled tensions, resulting in a 50-day Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, the deadliest phase of conflict between the two sides to date.

Consecutive Israeli governments have increased settlement construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, places where Palestinians hope for a future state alongside Gaza. Some are well-developed and resemble Israeli city suburbs, but other outposts may have a few caravans.

isarel

Israel Finds The Body Of A Teen Whose Disappearance Sparked A Deadly Settler Attack In The West Bank

While Israel has constructed numerous settlements throughout the occupied West Bank, the outposts are not allowed, despite the government’s tacit support. The international world regards all West Bank settlements as unlawful and impediments to peace.

Over 700,000 Israelis now live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, regions acquired by Israel in 1967.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Posthumous Memoir By Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny To Be Published Oct. 22

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NEW YORK — Alexei Navalny’s memoir, which he began working on in 2020, will be released this fall. “Patriot,” which publisher Alfred A. Knopf describes as the late Russian opposition leader’s “final letter to the world,” will be released on October 22.

Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, said in a statement released Thursday by the publisher, “This book is a tribute not just to Alexei’s life, but to his unshakeable devotion to the battle against dictatorship—a war for which he devoted everything, even his life. Through its pages, readers will learn about the guy I adored—a man of tremendous integrity and unwavering courage. Sharing his tale will not only respect his legacy, but will also motivate others to fight for what is right and never lose sight of the most important ideals.”

navalny

Posthumous Memoir By Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny To Be Published Oct. 22

Navalny, 47, died in February while serving a 19-year prison sentence on extremism charges, which he saw as politically motivated. He was imprisoned after returning from Germany in January 2021, where he was recovering from the 2020 nerve agent attack, which he blamed on the Kremlin, and has since received three prison sentences.

He perished in a distant correctional colony located above the Arctic Circle. Russian officials have categorically denied participation in both the poisoning and his death.

According to Knopf, Navalny began working on the book in Germany and continued to write it in Russia, both inside and outside the prison.

navalny

Posthumous Memoir By Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny To Be Published Oct. 22

“In vivid, page-turning detail, including never-before-seen correspondence from prison, Navalny recounts, among other things, his political career, the many attempts on his life, and the lives of the people closest to him, and the relentless campaign he and his team waged against an increasingly dictatorial regime,” according to Knopf’s press release.

“Written with the passion, wit, candor, and bravery for which he was justly acclaimed, ‘Patriot’ is Navalny’s final letter to the world: a moving account of his last years spent in the most brutal prison on earth; a reminder of why the principles of individual freedom matter so deeply; and a rousing call to continue the work for which he sacrificed his life.”

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Navalnaya claimed Thursday that she had hoped her husband would write a memoir much later in life when they were both “around 80” and had grandchildren.

navalny

Posthumous Memoir By Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny To Be Published Oct. 22

She recalled that many people encouraged Navalny to begin writing after the poisoning, but he initially dismissed these suggestions: “What kind of memoir is it when you’re 44?” It’s just been slightly more than half (his) life. He wasn’t rushing because there was so much more to come. But things came out as they did. Horrible and extremely unjust. “It turned out there was no other half ahead.”

She stated that the memoir was translated into 11 languages and would “definitely” be released in Russian. It is unclear from her words whether the book will be published in Russia, where Navalny was convicted as a leader of an extremist group and his foundation and offices were prohibited.

SOURCE – (AP)

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The Masters Gets Underway With Nicklaus, Player And Watson Hitting Ceremonial First Shots

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AUGUSTA, Georgia—The Masters began Thursday after a 2 1/2-hour weather delay, with wind still whipping beneath an overcast sky. It marks the first time golf’s top players have competed on the same course since the British Open in July.

With his wife Barbara on the bag, six-time champion Jack Nicklaus joined three-time winner Gary Player and two-time champion Tom Watson as hundreds of spectators gathered around the first tee to witness them take the ceremonial first shots.

masters

The Masters Gets Underway With Nicklaus, Player And Watson Hitting Ceremonial First Shots

“It’s not so easy to put the ball on the tee now, is it?” The player inquired of the others before stripping one down the fairway.

“Watch out on the left and right,” Nicklaus said before driving it straight down the middle.

Erik van Rooyen and Jake Knapp were the first participants to tee off, with the PGA Tour and LIV Golf strong hitters spread out in highlighted groups throughout the day. Those with later tee dates, such as Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, and Dustin Johnson, would likely finish after dusk, forcing them to return on Friday to complete their first rounds.

This year’s tournament features 13 players from Saudi-funded LIV Golf, including defending Masters champion Jon Rahm, who quit the PGA Tour late last year for millions in guaranteed money. That’s down from 18 a year ago when people were still determining how the split between the breakaway league and the long-established PGA Tour would play out at Augusta National.

However, the ongoing schism is just one of many topics this year.

masters

The Masters Gets Underway With Nicklaus, Player And Watson Hitting Ceremonial First Shots

Scottie Scheffler, the 2022 champion and world’s number one player, has been the 4-1 betting favorite since Woods ruled nearly two decades ago, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Rory McIlroy, who missed the cut last year, is attempting to complete the career grand slam for the tenth time. Woods is only playing for the second time this season due to illness and injury.

Scheffler and Sam Burns both have wives who are expecting their first children. Both players have stated that they would retire if they heard their wives were in labor, which is difficult to believe given their advantage on Sunday’s back nine.

masters

The Masters Gets Underway With Nicklaus, Player And Watson Hitting Ceremonial First Shots

Last year, the rain stretched the third round to Sunday, and Rahm entered the long day four shots behind Brooks Koepka. He had halved it at the start of the final round, and Rahm became the fourth Spaniard to win a green jacket with a four-shot triumph against Koepka and Phil Mickelson, who finished with a 65 at the age of 52.

SOURCE – (AP)

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