American Brittney Griner moved to a penal colony in Russia

American basketball star Brittney Griner has been sent to a penal colony in Russia to serve out her sentence for drug possession, her legal team said on Wednesday. A Russian court last month dismissed an appeal against her nine-year sentence. The eight-time All-Star center featuring the WNBA and two-time Olympic gold medalist Phoenix Mercury was sentenced Aug. 4 after police found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Her arrest came amid heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops to Ukraine, and the politically charged case could lead to a high-risk prisoner swap between Washington and Moscow for a minute too long,” the White House press secretary said , Karine Jean-Pierre “As we have said, the U.S. government has made a significant offer to the Russians to break up the current unacceptable and unlawful detentions of American citizens.” Left Moscow to go to a penal colony – as prisons in Russia are well known. The move was expected as she had lost her vocation. Such transfers can take days or even weeks, during which time lawyers and family members are usually out of touch with the prisoner, even after hers Upon arrival, access to Griner might be difficult as many penal colonies are located in remote parts of Russia. Her lawyers said Wednesday they didn’t know exactly where she was or where she would end up – but expected to be notified when she reached her final destination. In a statement emphasizing the work being done to secure Griner’s release, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russian authorities grant the embassy regular access to Griner as required of them. Officials at the US Embassy in Moscow visited Griner last week. A senior State Department official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case, said the Russians had not notified American diplomats of Griner’s transfer in advance and had not yet responded to inquiries from the American embassy about her current whereabouts or ultimate goal. In many penal colonies, prisoners work for minimal pay, and dissidents and other countries have denounced the prisoners’ conditions. Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny went on a hunger strike to protest his treatment, including officials’ refusal to give him the correct medication and allow his doctor to visit him behind bars. He also protested the hourly checks a security guard carries out on him at night Griner, 32, who was arrested when she returned to play for a Russian team during the WNBA’s offseason, has admitted she found the canisters in her luggage would have. But she testified that she accidentally packed them in a hurry and that she had no criminal intent. Her defense team submitted written statements that her cannabis had been prescribed to treat pain. The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to swap Griner and Paul Whelan – an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage – for Viktor Kampf. Bout is a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year sentence in the US and once earned the nickname “dealer of death.”

American basketball star Brittney Griner has been sent to a penal colony in Russia to serve out her sentence for drug possession, her legal team said on Wednesday.

A Russian court last month dismissed an appeal against her nine-year sentence. The eight-time All-Star center featuring the WNBA and two-time Olympic gold medalist Phoenix Mercury was sentenced Aug. 4 after police found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Her arrest comes at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops to Ukraine, and the politically charged case could lead to a high-risk prisoner swap between Washington and Moscow.

“Every minute that Brittney Griner has to be unlawfully detained in Russia is a minute too long,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “As we have said, the US government has made a significant offer to the Russians to resolve the current unacceptable and unlawful detentions of American citizens.”

Griner’s legal team said she left a detention center outside Moscow on Nov. 4 for a penal colony — as prisons are commonly called in Russia. The move was expected as she lost her appeal.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Britney Griner is seen by a courtroom after a hearing in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, on x20;August.  4, 2022.

Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP file photo

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted out of a courtroom after a hearing in Khimki, just outside Moscow, Russia, August 4, 2022.

Such transfers can take days or even weeks, during which lawyers and relatives usually have no contact with the prisoner. Even after they arrive, accessing Griner can be difficult as many penal colonies are located in remote parts of Russia.

Her lawyers said on Wednesday they didn’t know exactly where she was or where she would end up – but they expected to be notified when she reached her final destination.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a statement emphasizing efforts to secure Griner’s release, insisted that Russian authorities grant the embassy regular access to Griner, as required by them. Officials at the US Embassy in Moscow visited Griner last week.

A senior State Department official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case, said the Russians had not notified American diplomats of Griner’s transfer in advance and had not yet responded to inquiries from the American embassy about her current whereabouts or ultimate goal.

In many penal colonies, prisoners work for minimal pay, and dissidents and other countries have denounced the prisoners’ conditions. Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny went on a hunger strike to protest his treatment, including officials’ refusal to give him the correct medication and allow his doctor to visit him behind bars.

He also protested hourly night-time checks by a guard, saying it was like torture through sleep deprivation.

Griner, 32, who was arrested while returning to play for a Russian team during the WNBA’s offseason, has admitted she had the canisters in her luggage. But she testified that she accidentally packed them in a hurry and that she had no criminal intent. Her defense team submitted written statements that her cannabis had been prescribed to treat pain.

The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to swap Griner and Paul Whelan – an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage – for Viktor Bout. Bout is a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year sentence in the US and once earned the nickname “dealer of death.”

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