Russia is moving US basketball star Brittney Griner to a penal colony after she lost an appeal against a drug conviction, her lawyers said Wednesday, drawing a sharp rebuke from the White House.
Griner, who has been jailed for nine years for possession of a small quantity of cannabis oil, was transferred out of a detention centre on November 4, her legal team said.
According to lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement:
“She is now on her way to a penal colony,”
“We do not have any information on her exact current location or her final destination.
“Russia generally notifies of a prisoner’s transfer to a different address by mail, taking up to two weeks.”
The situation of Griner has sparked outrage in the US, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken is attempting to reach an agreement with Russia to release her despite escalating tensions over Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reaffirmed that the US had made Russia a “substantial offer” to settle the dispute.
“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.”
Griner, a two-time gold medalist in the Olympic basketball competition and a Women’s NBA champion, had traveled to Russia in her off-season from the Phoenix Mercury Women’s National Basketball Association team to play for the professional Yekaterinburg team.
She claimed that the cannabis in the vape cartridges was to treat the pain from her sports injuries, but Russia does not permit the use of medical marijuana.