WNBA star Brittney Griner was reportedly transferred out of her Moscow jail and into a Russian penal colony on Friday after she plead guilty to drug smuggling and possession charges.
According to ESPN, Griner’s lawyers were not aware of the transfer until Tuesday and reportedly were caught by surprise at the speed at which she was moved from the Moscow jail to the penal colony. It’s unclear what penal colony Griner is being moved to.
The move comes a little over a week after Griner’s appeal was denied on October 25th. The report indicates Griner was last visited in the Moscow jail on Thursday by U.S. embassy officials. Her lawyers saw her the day before.
Her lawyers told ESPN it could be up to two weeks before Griner’s location is known, “Notification is given via official mail and normally takes up to two weeks to be received.”
Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas released a statement to ESPN telling them, “Our primary concern continues to be BG’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 also noted she was working with the U.S. government and the Richardson Center to obtain Griner’s release and that they “are using all available resources to determine her whereabouts, ensure her safety and bring her home.”
She concluded, “We are thankful for everyone’s support, and hope that as we near nine months of detention, that BG and all wrongfully detained Americans will be shown mercy and returned home to their families for the holidays.”
President Biden’s Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued her own statement early Wednesday morning tweeting, “Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long.”
“As the Administration continues to work tirelessly to secure her release, the President has directed the Administration to prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony,” she continued.
Jean-Pierre went on, “As we have said before, the U.S. Government made a significant offer to the Russians to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions of American citizens.”
She then declared, “In the subsequent weeks, despite a lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians, the U.S. Government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with the Russians through all available channels.”
Jean-Pierre concluded, “The U.S. Government is unwavering in its commitment to its work on behalf of Brittney and other Americans detained in Russia – including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan.”
Griner was arrested in a Moscow airport in February after authorities searched her luggage and discovered a number of vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.
In July she plead guilty telling the Russian court, “I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law.”
In August before her sentencing, Griner told the court, “I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them.”
“I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home,” she continued. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling it doesn’t end my life here.”
She was then sentenced to 9 years in prison and fined one million rubles or $16,200.
What do you make of Russia moving Griner to a penal colony to serve her sentence?