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WNBA star Brittney Griner's defense team filed an appeal against the 9 1/2-year prison sentence she was given by a Russian court for smuggling drugs into the country. Griner was convicted on Aug. 4, and her lawyers, under Russia's laws, had 10 days to appeal.

Drug charges comparable to Griner's have the potential of a maximum sentence of 10 years in Russia, but her lawyers described Griner's punishment as "excessive." As reported by the Associated Press, Griner's legal team is arguing that other defendants in similar cases have received an average sentence of about five years and about a third of them were granted parole.

The court also fined Griner about $16,400. CNN reported that Judge Anna Sotnikova said the Khimki city court took into account Griner's partial admission of guilt, remorse for the deed, state of health and charitable activities. Per CNN, the decision regarding the appeal could take one to two months -- or longer.

Griner was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport in February for carrying vape cartridges with marijuana concentrate in her luggage and has been detained since then. The Phoenix Mercury center was in the country because she plays for a Russian team during the WNBA offseason. 

The appeal comes just a few days after Russia finally confirmed that there is an ongoing negotiation with President Biden's administration for a potential prisoner swap. Although rumors had been floating for a few months, Russia was not discussing it until Griner was sentenced.

Russian officials have also been clear about their preference of negotiating in private, as both Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov have publicly talked about their dislike of "microphone diplomacy." The discussions, they said, should take place through the communication channel that Biden and Vladimir Putin established in June 2021.

The swap would reportedly involve Griner and corporate security director Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence after being arrested in 2018 and convicted of spying in 2020. The Biden administration considers both Americans to be "wrongfully detained." In exchange for Griner and Whelan, Russia is asking for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States.

For a full explainer and timeline on Griner's situation, click here.