Brittney Griner has moved to a Russian penal colony in an undisclosed location

American basketball star Brittney Griner was transferred to a Russian penal colony this week, a move that has left her family and legal team in the dark about her status and whereabouts.

The New York Times reported that Griner’s attorneys “said in a statement [on Wednesday] that their destination was unknown and that they expected to be notified by official mail along with the US Embassy once it arrived, a process that could take up to two weeks.”

Griner, 32, has been jailed in Russia since February when she was arrested at a Moscow airport on drug-related charges. Security officers found cannabis oil in their luggage, in what Griner later described as an accident.

Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court in August, a decision upheld last month when her appeals case was dismissed.

Her transfer to a Russian penal colony marks another dark development for Griner, a star for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

According to the Times, penal colonies are “notorious for abusive treatment of inmates, overcrowding and harsh conditions.”

“Some prisoners are tortured or beaten by fellow inmates. Some have to work 16-hour days. Some are forced to watch repeated Russian propaganda,” the Times reported. “This is the world of the Russian penal colony where Brittney Griner is being sent to serve a nine-year sentence after her drug smuggling conviction was upheld last month.”

The transfer also complicates the already difficult circumstances for Griner’s friends and family back home.

“Prisoners are usually not allowed to communicate with the outside world for a week or two while they are being transferred, and lawyers and family members don’t know where inmates are going – they don’t know which penal colony is serving their sentence until they’re incarcerated.” arrives,” the Times said.

Griner’s continued imprisonment, which comes at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Russia, has spiraled into a diplomatic standoff.

The US has sought a prisoner swap with Russia that would secure the release of Griner and Paul Whelan, an American citizen jailed in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges.

In exchange, the US would release Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer currently serving a 25-year sentence in the United States.

Russia has so far resisted the offer.

Officials at the US Embassy in Moscow last week met with Griner for the first time since her arrest.

“We have been told that she is doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week after the meeting, as quoted by the New York Times .

“As we have said, the US government has made a significant offer to the Russians to break the current unacceptable and unlawful detentions of American citizens Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan,” added Jean-Pierre, as quoted by the Times. “I can also tell you that in the weeks that followed, despite a lack of good faith negotiations by the Russians, the US government pursued this offer and proposed alternative options to the Russians through all available channels for the future.

President Joe Biden said in a news conference on Wednesday that after the midterm elections in the United States close, he is confident that Russian President Vladimir Putin will return to the negotiating table.

“My hope is that now that the election is over, Mr. Putin will be able to discuss with us and be willing to talk more seriously about a prisoner swap,” Biden said, as quoted by ESPN.

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