November 17, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in prison in a Russian penal colony in August for drug smuggling, is seen on a screen during a court hearing of an appeal against her sentence via video link from a pre-trial detention center in Moscow regional court October 25 .
U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in prison in a Russian penal colony in August for drug smuggling, is seen on a screen during a court hearing of an appeal against her sentence via video link from a pre-trial detention center in Moscow regional court October 25 . (Kirll Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

US basketball star Brittney Griner has been transferred to a penal colony in Russia’s Mordovia region, her legal team told CNN in a statement Thursday.

“We can confirm that Brittney began serving her sentence at IK-2 in Mordovia. We stayed here earlier this week. Brittney is doing as well as could be expected and is trying to stay strong as she adjusts to a new environment,” Griner’s attorneys, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, told CNN on Thursday.

Griner’s attorneys said they would like to “thank everyone who has taken care of her” and that they have received “numerous messages of support.”

They added that “considering that this is a very challenging time for them,” there will be no further comment from them.

The US State Department said Griner’s whereabouts have still not been disclosed to them by the Russian government.

“We are aware of reports of her whereabouts and are in frequent contact with Ms. Griner’s legal team,” a State Department spokesman said Thursday.

“However, the Russian Federation has still not provided any official notification of such a relocation of a US citizen, to which we strongly protest. The embassy has continued to push for more information about her transfer and her current whereabouts,” the spokesman added.

Griner’s agent Lindsay Colas also told CNN that the Russian legal team saw the WNBA star in the penal colony where she began serving her 9-year sentence.

“Despite the fact that she is alone and now approaching her ninth month in confinement away from loved ones, she is trying to stay strong. We will not share any further details at this time, but would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Biden administration, the Richardson Center, and everyone who has reached out to encourage them,” Colas said.

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport just before the start of the war and accused by Russian prosecutors of attempting to smuggle less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in her luggage.

Russia’s Mordovia region, more than 300 miles from Moscow, is the same region where American Paul Whelan is being held. The former US Marine is serving 16 years in another penal colony over espionage charges, which he denies.

How is life in a penal colony? While conditions in the various Russian penal colonies vary widely, there are reports of political prisoners being subjected to harsh conditions. Prisoners can be subjected to “solitary confinement or sentences in psychiatric institutions,” according to the State Department’s human rights report.

Russian law also allows forced labor in penal colonies, and in some cases inmates have been tortured to death, the report said. There are also reports of prison authorities recruiting inmates to abuse other inmates, the report adds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *