Brittney Griner Moved To Russian Penal Colony, Her Lawyers Don't Yet Know Exact Location

Brittney Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has been moved from a detention center outside of Moscow to a Russian penal colony to begin serving her nine-year sentence for having inadvertently carried less than a gram of cannabis oil in her suitcase when traveling to Moscow to finish her 7th season with a Russian basketball team. 

Griner’s legal team said in a statement that her "exact current location or her final destination was unknown and that they expected to be notified through official mail, along with the U.S. Embassy, once she arrives - a process that can take up to two weeks. 

The move follows a Russian appeals court decision to uphold Griner's conviction on drug smuggling charges last month, which the White House called sham justice.

"Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long," said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement on Wednesday.

"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." 

Prisoner Swap?

Over these past several months, the White House has said that it made a "substantial offer" to swap convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan. Moscow has also indicated it is open to a prisoner swap, or so it seemed. Griner's arrest just one week before Russia invaded Ukraine, was initially seen as the Kremlin's attempt to create leverage for a potential prisoner exchange or a reduction in sanctions related to the invasion. So far, neither has happened.

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson told CNN in an interview last month that he had met with “senior Russian officials, individuals close to President (Vladimir) Putin” during his trip to Moscow in September to help secure the release of Griner, Whelan and others incarcerated in Russia. 

Last week U.S. diplomats in Moscow met with Griner, at which time Jean-Pierre said she was doing “as well as can be expected under the circumstances.” 

The White House continues to maintain that Griner's freedom is a priority and has encouraged Moscow to take a prisoner exchange deal or propose a serious counteroffer.

President Biden said that he would be willing to speak to Vladimir Putin at the upcoming G-20 summit in Bali, but only to discuss Griner's release. Although an aide to Putin said recently that Brittney Griner is "not the main issue that we are concerned about." 

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Posted In: CannabisNewsPoliticsMarketsGeneralBrittney GrinerJoe BidenKarine Jean-PierreRussian penal colonyVladimir Putin
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