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Detained WNBA star Brittney Griner transferred to Russian penal colony

The Hill 11/17/2022 Olafimihan Oshin
© Provided by The Hill

WNBA star Brittney Griner has been transferred to a Russian penal colony after her appeal against a drug conviction was rejected last month, he attorneys and agent said Thursday.

“We can confirm that Brittney began serving her sentence at IK-2 in Mordovia. We visited her early this week,” Griner’s attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

“Brittney is doing as well as could be expected and trying to stay strong as she adapts to a new environment. Considering that this is a very challenging period for her, there will be no further comments from us.”

Female Penal Colony IK-2 is located in in the town of Yavas in the Mordovia region, about 300 mile from Moscow, where Griner was arrested and convicted.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has been detained in Moscow since February, following her arrest at an airport in the capital for possessing cannabis vaping cartridges, just days after the Kremlin began its war in Ukraine. 

In a separate statement, Griner’s agent Lindsay Colas thanked the Biden administration and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson for their help and support throughout the ordeal. 

“Despite the fact she is alone and now nearing her ninth month in detention separated from her loved ones, she is trying to stay strong,” Colas said of Griner.

A Russian regional court in October denied Griner’s appeal to reduce or throw out her initial nine-year sentence, but lowered the athlete’s sentence to eight years, factoring in the time she served in pre-trial detention. 

In recent months, the Biden administration has made Griner’s case — along with that of detained former U.S. Marine Paul Whalen — one of its top priorities, saying that both individuals are wrongfully detained in the country. 

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