Bad, Bad News: Brittney Griner Begins Transfer to Russian Penal Colony
US women’s basketball star Brittney Griner is in the process of being moved to a Russian penal colony where she is due to serve the remainder of a nine-year drug smuggling sentence that was upheld in late October.
Griner “is now on her way to a penal colony,” her attorneys said in a statement to CNN Wednesday.
“We do not have any information on her exact current location or her final destination,” said attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov.
“In accordance with the standard Russian procedure, the attorneys, as well as the US Embassy, should be notified upon her arrival at her destination. Notification is given via official mail and normally takes up to two weeks to be received.”
Russian penal colonies are known for their lack of hygiene and access to medical care, with inmates often subjected to manual labor.
Last month, Griner lost her appeal against a nine-year drug sentence. She was detained in February and convicted in August of deliberately smuggling drugs into Russia.
She has repeatedly apologized for bringing a small amount of cannabis into the country, where she played basketball in the off-season.
In a statement, Griner’s representatives confirmed they do not know her current location or condition.
“Our primary concern continues to be BG’s health and well-being,” her agent Lindsay Colas said. “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.”
Griner’s detention has raised concerns that she is being used as a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
The US government condemned the denial of her appeal last week, with a State Department spokesperson calling it “another repudiation of justice, which only compounds the original injustice of her detention.”