American basketball star Brittney Griner has been sent to a penal colony in Russia to serve her sentence for drug possession, her authorized staff stated Wednesday.
A Russian court docket rejected an attraction of her nine-year sentence final month. The eight-time all-star heart with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist was convicted Aug. 4 after police stated they discovered vape canisters containing pot 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 could lead on to a high-stakes prisoner alternate between Washington and Moscow.
“Every minute that Brittney Griner should endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too lengthy,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated. “As we’ve got stated earlier than, the U.S. Government made a vital provide to the Russians to resolve the present unacceptable and wrongful detentions of American residents.”
Griner’s authorized staff stated she left a detention heart outdoors Moscow on Nov. 4 for a penal colony — as prisons in Russia are generally identified. The transfer was anticipated since she misplaced her attraction.
WATCH | Court rejects Griner’s sentencing attraction:
Such transfers can take days and even weeks, throughout which era lawyers and family members normally haven’t got contact with the prisoner. Even after she arrives, entry to Griner could also be troublesome since many penal colonies are in distant elements of Russia.
Her lawyers stated 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 remaining vacation spot.
In a assertion stressing the work being accomplished to safe Griner’s launch, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russian authorities give the embassy common entry to Griner, as they’re required to do. Officials on the U.S. Embassy in Moscow visited Griner final week.
A senior State Department official, who spoke to reporters on situation of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case, stated the Russians had not notified American diplomats of Griner’s switch forward of time and had not but responded to queries from the American embassy about both her present whereabouts or final vacation spot.
In many penal colonies, prisoners work for minimal pay, and dissidents and different international locations have denounced the situations of these held. Imprisoned Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny went on a starvation strike to protest his remedy, together with officers’ refusal to give him the precise medicines and to permit his physician to go to him behind bars.
He additionally protested the hourly checks a guard makes on him at evening, saying they quantity to sleep deprivation torture.
Griner, 32, 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 felony intent. Her defence staff introduced written statements that she had been prescribed pot to deal with ache.
Biden hopes Putin will negotiate Griner’s launch
The Associated Press and different information organizations have reported that Washington has provided to alternate 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.”
President Joe Biden says he hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin might be extra keen to negotiate the discharge of Griner now that the U.S. midterm elections are over.
Biden made the remark throughout a information convention Wednesday to focus on the midterm election outcomes. He added that he’s “decided to get her house” in addition to others.
“My hope is that now that the election is over, that Mr. Putin might be in a position to focus on with us and be keen to speak extra significantly about a prisoner alternate,” Biden stated.