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Brittney Griner: Jailed US Basketball Player Begins Transfer to Russian Penal Colony

Griner "is now on her way to a penal colony," her legal team said on Wednesday

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

UNITED STATES: Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who has been held in custody in Russia since February, is being transferred to a penal colony, a type of jail facility infamous for its harsh living conditions.

Griner “is now on her way to a penal colony,” her legal team said on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old was detained at the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow on February 17, one week before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and was charged with bringing illegal cannabis oil-containing vape cartridges into the country.

She admitted carrying the cartridges and claimed it was an “honest mistake.” Written documents confirming that she had been given cannabis as a painkiller were presented by her defence team.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist’s appeal was denied by a court in late August, and after that, she was given a 9½-year prison term.

Despite the fact that cannabis is illegal in Russia, Moscow has been accused of using Griner “as a political pawn.”

In Russia, if you are found in possession of less than 6 grammes of cannabis, you will typically be fined or jailed for 15 days. Griner is said to have had less than 1 gramme when she travelled to Russia to play basketball during the US off-season.

“We do not have any information on her exact current location or her final destination,”
her lawyers, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a statement.

Griner’s new location has not yet been made public, but U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted on Wednesday: “We strongly protest the movement of Brittney Griner to a remote penal colony and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions.”

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, stated that the US was “unwavering” in its efforts to release Griner and the other Americans who were being held in captivity after her relocation to the unnamed penal colony.

She continued by saying that US President Joe Biden had instructed his administration to act quickly to “prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony.”

Russian authorities are expected to make Brittney and other Americans detained in Russia available to US embassy personnel, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Late in July, the Biden administration suggested an exchange of prisoners with Russia to gain Griner’s release as well as that of ex-marine Paul Whelan, whom Moscow suspects of spying.

Russia hasn’t yet responded favourably to the proposal, according to officials, who also claimed that diplomacy shouldn’t be done in front of the public.

On November 3, representatives from the US Embassy in Moscow paid Griner a visit and promised to continue advocating for her release.

Tensions between the two countries have been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a week after Griffin’s detention and by the US’s support for Kyiv.

Throughout the conflict, there have been a number of prisoner exchanges between Moscow and Kyiv.

In the largest prisoner swap to date, 218 prisoners, including 108 Ukrainian women, were swapped.

Also Read: United Kingdom Prime Minister Liz Truss Apologizes for Any Errors


  • Sadaf Hasan
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    Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

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