Brittney Griner's Defense Team Appealing Her 9-Year Russian Prison Sentence

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Brittney Griner's defense team has filed an appeal to her nine-year prison sentence, after the WNBA star was convicted of smuggling drugs into Russia.

On Monday, the 31-year-old WNBA star's lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, confirmed to PEOPLE that they have appealed the verdict sentencing her to nine years in a Russian penal colony, issued on Aug. 4.

Blagovolina had previously told PEOPLE that they don't know if the appeal will be successful, but said that they have to try.

RELATED: What's Next for Brittney Griner as Lawyers Plan Appeal and She Awaits a Potential Prisoner Exchange

"We need to use every legal opportunity that we have, and appeal is one of these opportunities," Blagovolina said.

The process will also take several months, Griner's other lawyer, Alexander Boykov, said. "It's not very fast."

US basketball player Brittney Griner (R) is escorted by police before a hearing during her trial on charges of drug smuggling, in Khimki, outside Moscow on August 2, 2022. - Griner was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in February 2022 just days before Moscow launched its offensive in Ukraine. She was charged with drug smuggling for possessing vape cartridges with cannabis oil. Speaking at the trial on July 27, Griner said she still did not know how the cartridges ended up in her bag. (Photo by Natalia
US basketball player Brittney Griner (R) is escorted by police before a hearing during her trial on charges of drug smuggling, in Khimki, outside Moscow on August 2, 2022. - Griner was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in February 2022 just days before Moscow launched its offensive in Ukraine. She was charged with drug smuggling for possessing vape cartridges with cannabis oil. Speaking at the trial on July 27, Griner said she still did not know how the cartridges ended up in her bag. (Photo by Natalia

NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty

As they begin the appeal process, there is also hope that Griner could come home sooner through a prisoner exchange. An official in the Biden administration previously confirmed to PEOPLE that the Biden administration had "made a substantial proposal to bring Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan [another American imprisoned in Russia] home weeks ago."

According to CNN, the U.S. offered to trade 31-year-old Griner and Whelan for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. The outlet said Russian officials also requested that the U.S. include convicted murderer and former Russian spy Vadim Krasikov in the package.

RELATED: A Timeline of Brittney Griner's Detainment in Russia

US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, holds a picture of her team as she stands inside a defendants' cage before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. - Lawyers for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is standing trial in Russia on drug charges, said on July 26, 2022 they hoped she would receive a "lenient" sentence.
US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, holds a picture of her team as she stands inside a defendants' cage before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. - Lawyers for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is standing trial in Russia on drug charges, said on July 26, 2022 they hoped she would receive a "lenient" sentence.

EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Brittney Griner holds up a photo of her teammates while in court

According to the Associated Press, a senior Russian diplomat also confirmed Sunday that exchange talks are underway.

"This quite sensitive issue of the swap of convicted Russian and U.S. citizens is being discussed through the channels defined by our presidents," Alexander Darchiev, head of the Foreign Ministry's North America department, told state news agency Tass, per the AP.

"These individuals are, indeed, being discussed. The Russian side has long been seeking the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to professionals, proceeding from the 'do not harm' principle,' " he added.

US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner (C), who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, shakes hands with her lawyer Alexander Boykov (R) next to Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Moscow Elizabeth Rood (L) before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. - Lawyers for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is standing trial in Russia on drug charges, said on July 26, 2022 they hoped she would receive a "lenient" sentence.
US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner (C), who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, shakes hands with her lawyer Alexander Boykov (R) next to Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Moscow Elizabeth Rood (L) before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. - Lawyers for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is standing trial in Russia on drug charges, said on July 26, 2022 they hoped she would receive a "lenient" sentence.

EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Brittney Griner shakes hands with her lawyer Alexander Boykov

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For now, the two-time Olympic gold medalist doesn't know if she'll be exchanged, if the appeal will be successful, or if she'll live out her next nine years in a Russian penal colony.

When Griner heard about the potential exchange, she was "quite happy to know that she's not been forgotten and that there are some possible developments," her lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, previously told PEOPLE. "But she's quite realistic about what's going on."