US basketball star Griner moved to Russian penal colony – DW – 11/09/2022

US basketball player Brittney Griner was transferred on November 4 to a penal colony from a detention center near Moscow, said her legal team on Wednesday.

The Olympic medalist was arrested and detained at a Moscow airport in February for having hashish oil in her luggage. She was sentenced on August 4 to nine years in a penal colony on charges of possessing and smuggling drugs.

The 32-year-old had pleaded guilty, saying she had made an “honest mistake,” and had no criminal intent.

The details of her location are not known, her legal team said. The attorneys, as well as the US Embassy, should be informed upon her arrival at the destination, but the notification could take up to two weeks.

US concerned about her condition

A White House statement said US President Joe Biden has asked his administration to “prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure 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.”

Officials of the US Embassy in Moscow visited the WNBA star last week after her appeal against the prison sentence was rejected.

Griner’s supporters back home have voiced concern over her situation and called for her release. 

In July, Washington had proposed a deal for a prisoner swap with Russia to secure her release, as well as that of former US Marine Paul Whelan, but Moscow has not accepted it as of now.

The Ukraine war and subsequent souring of ties between Russia and the US have further complicated talks of her release. 

Griner’s agent Lindsay Colas said her health and well-being were their primary concern.

In an earlier statement, Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan, had said Griner’s conditions as “intolerable” and called her trial “another sham judicial proceeding.”

Prisoner swaps are never fair: DW’s Konstantin Eggert

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tg/sms  (AP, Reuters)

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