American basketball star Brittney Griner has been sent to a penal colony in Russia to serve her sentence for drug possession, her authorized staff mentioned Wednesday.
A Russian court docket rejected an enchantment of her nine-year sentence final month. The eight-time all-star centre with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medallist was convicted on Aug. 4 after police mentioned they discovered vape canisters containing marijuana oil in her baggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
Her arrest got here at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, simply days earlier than Russia sent troops into Ukraine, and the politically charged case may lead to a high-stakes prisoner trade between Washington and Moscow.
Griner’s authorized staff mentioned she left a detention centre on Nov. 4 for a penal colony — a frequent kind of Russian jail the place detainees work for minimal pay. Her lawyers mentioned Wednesday that they didn’t know precisely the place she was or the place she would find yourself, however that they anticipated to be notified when she reached her closing vacation spot. Such transfers can take days.
WATCH | Court rejects Griner’s sentencing enchantment:
The 32-year-old star athlete, who was detained whereas returning to play for a Russian staff in the course of the WNBA’s low season, has admitted that she had the canisters in her baggage. But she testified that she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no legal intent. Her defence staff offered written statements that she had been prescribed marijuana to deal with ache.
“Every minute that Brittney Griner should endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too lengthy,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre mentioned. “As we’ve got mentioned earlier than, the U.S. Government made a vital supply to the Russians to resolve the present unacceptable and wrongful detentions of American residents.”
The Associated Press and different information organizations have reported that Washington has supplied to trade Griner and Paul Whelan — an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage — for Viktor Bout. Bout is a Russian arms vendor who’s serving a 25-year sentence within the U.S. and as soon as earned the nickname the “service provider of dying.”