Brittney Griner being moved to Russian penal colony, lawyers say

MOSCOW — Russian officials are moving WNBA star Brittney Griner to a penal colony, her attorneys said Wednesday.

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According to The Associated Press, Griner’s legal team released a statement saying the 32-year-old was transferred from an Iksha detention center Friday.

“She is now on her way to a penal colony,” the statement read. “We do not have any information on her exact current location or her final destination.”

The news came about two weeks after a Russian court denied the Phoenix Mercury center’s appeal of her recent nine-year conviction on drug-smuggling charges, CNN previously reported. The former Olympian was arrested in February after Russian authorities said she had cannabis oil in her luggage, according to the news outlet. Griner, who pleaded guilty but said she had not intended to pack the vape canisters containing the oil, was convicted in August.

In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre spoke out in support of Griner, saying that “every minute” the athlete endures “wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long.”

“As the administration continues to work tirelessly to secure her release, the president has directed the administration to prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony,” Jean-Pierre tweeted.

“As we have said before, the U.S. government made a significant offer to the Russians to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions of American citizens. In the subsequent weeks, despite a lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians, the U.S. government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with the Russians through all available channels. The U.S. government is unwavering in its commitment to its work on behalf of Brittney and other Americans detained in Russia – including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan.”

As of Wednesday morning, the Republican Party had not publicly responded to the news.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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