WNBA star Brittney Griner has been moved from a Moscow jail to an undisclosed penal colony.
Back in August, the court sentenced Griner to nine years in the prison facility after she was arrested in February for carrying hashish oil in her luggage.
Shortly after her sentencing, Griner’s lawyers told The New York Times that the verdict was “absolutely unreasonable” and said they “will certainly file an appeal”.
On 25 October, the Moscow Regional Court court held the Olympic athlete’s appeal hearing – which featured Griner participating via video.
“I’ve been here almost eight months, and people with more severe crimes have been given less than what I was given,” the beloved basketball player said during the hearing (per CNN).
“I really hope the court will adjust this sentence because it has been very, very stressful and very traumatic to my mental and my psyche and being away from my family, not being able to communicate.”
However despite Griner’s statement and her lawyer’s calling out the court’s unjustified ruling, the judge doubled down on Griner’s original nine-year- prison sentence.
The judge also ruled that the young athlete’s time in detention will be applied to her overall sentence – meaning she’ll serve just over eight years.
On 9 November, Griner’s attorney’s announced that the beloved basketball player was being transferred to an undisclosed penal colony to serve out her sentence.
Our team remains in close contact with the U.S. Government and Richardson Center, who are using all available resources to determine her whereabouts, ensure her safety, and bring her home. [con’t]
— Lindsay Kagawa Colas (she/her) (@kagawacolas) November 10, 2022
“[Griner] is now on her way to a penal colony. We do not have any information on her exact location or final destination,” Blagovolina and Boykov said in a statement (per People).
“In accordance with the standard Russian procedure, the attorneys, as well as the US Embassy, should be notified upon her arrival at their destination. Notification is given via official mail and normally takes up to two weeks to be received.”
According to a report from ESPN, Russian penal colonies are known to be extremely harsh and worse than the Moscow detention centre Griner was held in for the last few months.
The publication also noted that the aforementioned transfer took place on 4 November.
In response to the news, Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas released a statement asking for the public’s support.
“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 support in continuing to write letters and express their love and care for her,” she said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also released a statement reassuring the public that the Biden administration is working on getting the Phoenix Mercury player back.
“As we work to secure Brittney Griner’s release, we expect Russian authorities to provide our Embassy officials with regular access to all US citizens detained in Russia, including Brittney, as their obligation,” he said.
In July, the president offered to exchange convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout as part of a deal.
At the time, State Secretary Antony Blinken, said the White House had struck a deal with the Kremlin to secure her release.