Russian Authorities Transfer WNBA Star Brittney Griner To Penal Colony

REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Professional women’s basketball player Brittney Griner has been transferred to a Russian penal colony, according to a statement issued by her legal team Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, Griner’s team does “not have any information on her exact current location or her final destination,” as she was transferred from a detention center in Moscow on Nov. 4, according to Reuters.

The U.S. Embassy will be informed when she reaches her final destination. The process of transportation is reportedly very time consuming, as groups of prisoners have to be assembled and moved to various locations across the country. (RELATED: ‘Very Pissed’: Brittney Griner’s Wife Goes Off On US Government)

Griner, a 32-year-old two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA Phoenix Mercury player, was arrested in Moscow, Russia, in mid-February after cannabis vape cartridges were found in her luggage at a local airport. Cannabis is illegal in the country. She was arrested and pleaded guilty to possession and smuggling charges, calling it an “honest mistake.”

She was sentenced to nine years in prison in August and has had her sentence upheld despite appeals.

Inmates who have survived Russian penal colonies have described harsh regimes in which they must undertake tedious manual labor, poor hygiene, and a lack of access to adequate medical care, Reuters reported. Punk musician Maria Alyokhina of the band Pussy Riot served nearly two years in a penal colony after protesting in Moscow, and told Reuters that she slept in a room with roughly 80 other women, with just three available toilets and no hot water.