American basketball player Brittney Griner transferred to Russian penal colony

The exact location of the penal colony where Griner is now headed remains unknown to her family and legal team.

Photo of Britney Griner, who is being moved to a penal colony in Russia, handcuffed while escorted by the police.
Image: Via Twitter - @DailyLoud

Brittney Griner, the US basketball star that was arrested and sentenced on charges of possessing and smuggling drugs in Russia, is now in the process of being transferred to a Russian penal colony, where she is expected to serve her nine-year sentence.

On Wednesday, November 9, the Olympic gold medalist’s legal team announced in a statement that last week Griner had been moved from a detention centre near the Russian capital and was now headed to a penal colony. Her current whereabouts as well as the exact location where she’s being transferred remain unknown to her legal team and her family.

In line with Russian procedures, the US embassy and Griner’s attorneys should be notified once she arrives at the penal colony, although it might take up to two weeks for the notification to be received. Moreover, the transfer itself takes weeks or months. Penal colonies in Russia are known to have harsher conditions than the jail where Griner had been detained since her arrest.

The queer basketball player was first arrested on February 17 at a Moscow airport and charged with narcotics possession and smuggling because she was carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. She was then sentenced to nine years in prison in August and her appeal for a reduced sentence was rejected by a Moscow court in October.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement earlier today about this new development, saying: “Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long”, and adding that the Biden administration “continues to work tirelessly to secure her release”.

Earlier in July, the Biden administration proposed a deal for a prisoner swap with Russia, but Moscow officials are yet to respond on that. “Despite a lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians, the US government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with the Russians through all available channels,” Jean-Pierre said.

Griner’s agent, Lindsay Colas also issued a statement, saying that their primary concern at the present moment was Griner’s health and well-being. “As we work through this very difficult phase of not knowing exactly where BG is or how she is doing, we ask for the public’s support in continuing to write letters and express their love and care for her,” Colas said.

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