U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner has been moved to a penal colony in Russia : NPR
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Her lawyers say American basketball star Brittney Griner has been jailed from a detention center outside Moscow and is being taken to a Russian penal colony to begin serving a nine-year sentence on drug smuggling.
A statement released by Griner’s legal team said they had no information on Griner’s “exact current location or final destination.”
The statement also said that according to “standard Russian procedure”, they anticipate Russian authorities will notify Griner’s legal team and the US embassy of Griner’s whereabouts when she arrives at her destination.
Russian prison transfers can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
The move to transfer after a decision of the Russian appellate court Uphold Griner’s conviction for drug trafficking last month.
The White House has recognized the decision as “false justice” – even as it made clear that it continues to work to win Griner’s freedom through a potential prisoner exchange.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement: “Every minute that Brittney Griner has to endure unjust detention in Russia is one minute too long.”
“As the Administration continues to work tirelessly to secure her release, the President has directed the Administration to prevail against her Russian captors to improve her treatment and conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony,” the statement said.
The White House said it made an “important offer” over the summer – widely reported to involve a proposed transaction convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout – in exchange for Griner and another American, former US Marine Paul Whelan, being jailed.
White House officials also asserted that Griner’s freedom was a priority for the administration and repeatedly encouraged Moscow to either make the deal or propose a serious countermeasure.
In a recent interview with CNN, President Biden said the only reason he joined Russian President Vladimir Putin at this month’s G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, was to discuss free Griner.
Griner was first arrested for bringing less than one gram (0.04 oz.) of hash oil into Russia when she competed in the Russian women’s professional basketball tournament earlier this year. In August, a Russian court sentenced Griner to nine years in prison.
In court, Griner admitted to mistakenly packing two vape boxes while rushing to pack – but provided documents showing the oil was legally prescribed by a US doctor for pain control. She also never failed a drug test.
However, Griner’s arrest and subsequent trial were obscured war in Ukraine and praised the US-Russian relationship that her supporters say has made her a hostage of geopolitics.
Griner’s Russian lawyers also note that the American’s nine-year prison sentence on drug charges is unusually harsh, even by Russian legal standards.