WNBA participant, whose whereabouts had been publicly unknown, is in a penal colony 500km southeast of Moscow, attorneys affirm.
United States basketball participant Brittney Griner has been moved to a penal colony in Russia’s Mordovia area to serve a nine-year jail sentence for drug possession, her attorneys confirmed, as President Joe Biden’s administration continues to push for her launch.
Griner’s attorneys mentioned in a press release on Thursday that she was taken to Feminine Penal Colony IK-2 within the city of Yavas, roughly 500km (300 miles) southeast of Moscow.
The Girls’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) star was relocated from a detention centre close to the Russian capital on November 4. Whereas her attorneys mentioned at the moment that she had been moved to a penal colony, her actual whereabouts had been unknown to the general public.
“We are able to affirm that Brittney started serving her sentence at IK-2 in Mordovia. We visited her early this week,” attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boikov mentioned in Thursday’s assertion.
“Brittney is doing in addition to may very well be anticipated and making an attempt to remain robust as she adapts to a brand new surroundings.”
The US State Division mentioned on Wednesday the embassy in Moscow has not been in a position to talk with Griner because the switch.
“We, by means of our attorneys, are conscious of her location and are in frequent contact with Ms Griner’s authorized workforce, however formally, the Russian Federation has nonetheless failed to offer any official notification for such a transfer of a US citizen, which we strongly protest,” Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel instructed reporters.
“Our embassy and our mission in Moscow has continued to press for extra details about her switch and her present location, and people requests proceed to be ongoing.”
Russian penal colonies are identified for his or her harsh circumstances, the place prisoners are positioned in barracks, not particular person cells, and compelled to carry out day by day work.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, is one in every of two US residents Washington says are unjustifiably imprisoned in Russia. Paul Whelan, a US Marine veteran, was sentenced to 16 years in jail in 2020 on espionage expenses.
Griner’s arrest earlier this 12 months got here days earlier than Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and her case has moved by means of the Russian courtroom system amid frayed relations between Moscow and Washington over the conflict.
Russian authorities mentioned they discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her baggage as she was coming into the nation to play for a Russian workforce through the WNBA’s low season.
She was sentenced to 9 years in jail in August and, final month, a Russian courtroom upheld that sentence, which the basketball star’s defence attorneys described as extreme.
In earlier proceedings, Griner mentioned she didn’t intend to carry the vape cartridges into Russia and that it was an “sincere mistake” they ended up in her baggage.
Since Griner’s arrest, family members, teammates and supporters have been calling on the US authorities to place its full weight behind the case to safe her launch.
In September, Biden met the Griner and Whelan households to replace them on his administration’s efforts.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned in July that Washington made a “substantial proposal” to Moscow to free the pair. A number of US media shops reported round that point that the Biden administration had provided a prisoner alternate involving a Russian arms vendor jailed within the US.
US officers have mentioned they proceed to have interaction with their Russian counterparts to safe the 2 Individuals’ launch.
Regardless of the deteriorating ties between Washington and Moscow, Russia in April freed Trevor Reed, a former US Marine. In alternate, the US launched Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko who was serving a 20-year jail sentence within the US over drug expenses.