US furious as basketball star Griner says he moved to Russian penal colony

US furious as basketball star Griner says he moved to Russian penal colony


Russia is transferring jailed US basketball star Brittney Griner to a penal colony, her lawyers said Wednesday, prompting a sharp rebuke from the White House.

Griner, who was convicted of possession of a small amount of cannabis oil, was transferred from a detention center on Nov. 4, her legal team said.

She “is now on her way to a penal colony,” lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

They said Russia generally sends notifications of prisoner re-education through the mail, which takes up to two weeks.

“We have no information on their exact current whereabouts or ultimate destination,” they said.

Griner’s case has sparked outrage in the United States, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken approaching Russia to propose a deal to free her amid rising tensions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated that the United States had made a “substantial offer” to Russia to resolve her case.

“Every minute that Brittney Griner has to be unjustly detained in Russia is a minute too long,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

“While the government works tirelessly to secure her release, the President has directed the government to persuade her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may endure in a penal colony.”

Griner, a two-time Olympic basketball champion and women’s NBA champion, was in Russia during her offseason to play for the Yekaterinburg pro team of the Phoenix Mercury Women’s National Basketball Association team.

She said the cannabis in vape cartridges is to treat the pain from her sports injuries, but Russia doesn’t allow the use of medical marijuana.

Griner and another American jailed in Russia, Paul Whelan – a retired US Marine arrested in December 2018 and accused of espionage – could reportedly be traded for Viktor Bout, a famous Russian arms dealer who served 25 years in prison in 2012 Conviction.

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