According to her attorneys, Brittney Griner, an American basketball player who is currently serving a nine-year sentence for drug smuggling, has been transferred from a prison facility outside of Moscow and will soon begin her time in a Russian correctional colony.
The legal team representing Griner claims in a statement that they are unaware of Griner’s “precise current whereabouts or her eventual destination.”
The statement said that they believe Russian officials would inform Griner’s legal team and the U.S. embassy of Griner’s location once she arrives at her destination in accordance with “normal Russian protocol.”
Transfers between Russian prisons might take several days or many weeks.
The transfer decision follows a Russian appeals court ruling that affirmed Griner’s drug smuggling sentence from earlier this month.
The White House blasted the verdict as “sham justice” while stating that it is still trying to secure Griner’s release through a possible prisoner exchange.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement in which she said: “Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure unjust incarceration in Russia is a minute too long.”
The statement read, “As the Administration works relentlessly to win her release, the President has asked the Administration to persuade her Russian captors to improve her care and the circumstances she may be made to suffer in a prison colony.”
The White House claims to have made a “significant offer” during the summer to trade Griner and another imprisoned American, former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, for convicted Russian weapons dealer Viktor Bout.
Officials from the White House have also insisted that Griner’s liberation is a top priority for the administration and have repeatedly urged Moscow to accept the arrangement or make a compelling counteroffer.
President Biden stated in a recent interview with CNN that the only topic of conversation he would have with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 conference this month in Bali, Indonesia, would be the release of Griner.
When Griner travelled in Russia earlier this year to participate in the Russian women’s professional basketball league, she was first held for bringing less than a gramme (0.04 oz) of hashish oil into the country. Griner was given a nine-year jail term by a Russian court in August.
In court, Griner acknowledged hurriedly packing two vape cartridges, but she produced paperwork proving her American doctor had legitimately prescribed the oil for pain relief. Additionally, she’s never failed a drug test.
However, the Ukraine conflict and the deteriorating US-Russian ties cast a shadow on Griner’s arrest and subsequent trial, according to her supporters, making her a geopolitical hostage.
The nine-year sentence Griner received for drug charges was particularly severe, even by Russian judicial norms, according to the American’s Russian attorneys.
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