Griner relocated over 200 miles outside Moscow
3: 45 PM ET
ESPN News Services
WNBA star Brittney Griner was relocated to a penal colony in Mordovia, about 210 miles east of Moscow, to serve her nine-year sentence, her lawyers and agent said Thursday. Maria Blagovolina, Alexander Boykov and Griner’s lawyers had announced last week that Griner, WNBA star, would be transferred to a Russian penal colonies. However, they didn’t know where she was going.
“Brittney is doing as well as could be expected and trying to stay strong as she adapts to a new environment,” her lawyers said in their latest statement, noting that they had visited with her earlier this week.
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Colas, said the Phoenix Mercury center was “trying to stay strong” amid the circumstances.
” Despite being alone and spending nearly nine months in detention without her loved ones, she’s trying to stay strong,” Colas stated in a statement. “At this point, we won’t be sharing any more details but would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Richardson Center and the Biden Administration for their support. “
Griner’s family had dreaded her impending move to a penal colony ever since the appeal of her conviction was denied Oct. 25. Russian penal colonies are notorious for having harsher conditions than the Moscow prison where Griner was held since February.
Griner pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges in July following her arrest at a Moscow-area airport Feb. 17, when she was found with vape cartridges that contained hashish oil while trying to enter Russia to join her club team in Ekaterinburg. Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her bag, but said she did not intend to commit any crime. Griner’s defense team presented written statements stating that she was prescribed cannabis for chronic pain.
She was given her nine-year sentence in August before losing her appeal last month.
U.S. Officials declared that Griner was being held illegally in May and called her appeal and trial political theater. The Biden administration has been trying to negotiate Griner’s release for months. Griner is also being held in Russia along with Paul Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive. Whelan was also sent to a penal colony in Mordovia after being convicted of espionage-related charges in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison.
President Joe Biden told reporters last week that he hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin will be more willing to negotiate the release of Griner now that the U.S. midterm elections are over.
“I hope that now that the election has ended, Mr. Putin will be able talk with us and be more serious about a prisoner swap.
Information from ESPN’s T.J. Quinn and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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