WNBA player, whose whereabouts were publicly unknown, is in a penal colony 500 km southeast of Moscow, lawyers confirm.

American basketball player Brittney Griner has been transferred to a penal colony in the Russian region of Mordovia for nine years. imprisonment for drug possessionher lawyers confirmed, as President Joe Biden’s administration continues to press for her release.

Griner’s lawyers said in a statement Thursday that she had been transferred to the female penal colony IK-2 in the town of Yavas, about 500 km southeast of Moscow.

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star was moved on Nov. 4 from a detention center near the Russian capital. While her lawyers at the time said that she had been transferred to a penal colonyher exact whereabouts were unknown to the public.

“We can confirm that Brittney started serving her sentence at IK-2 in Mordovia. We visited her early this week,” lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boikov said in Thursday’s statement.

“Brittney is doing as well as could be expected and trying to stay strong as she adjusts to a new environment.”

The US State Department said Wednesday that the embassy in Moscow has been unable to communicate with Griner since the handover.

“We, through our lawyers, are aware of her location and are in regular contact with Ms. Griner’s legal team, but formally the Russian Federation has still not provided any official notice for such relocation of a US citizen, which we strongly oppose. protest. deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

“Our embassy and our mission in Moscow have continued to push for more information about her transfer and her current location, and those requests continue.”

Russian penal colonies known for their harsh conditionswhere prisoners are placed in barracks, not individual cells, and forced to do daily work.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is one of two U.S. citizens Washington says is unjustly imprisoned in Russia. Paul Whelana US Navy veteran, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020 on charges of espionage.

Griner’s arrest earlier this year came just days before Russia launched a full-scale investigation invasion of Ukraine and her case has moved through the Russian court system amid frayed relations between Moscow and Washington over the war.

Russian authorities said they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage when she entered the country to play for a Russian team during the WNBA off-season.

She was sentenced to nine years in prison in August and one last month Russian court confirmed that sentence, which the basketball star’s lawyers described as excessive.

In previous proceedings, Griner said she had no intention of taking the vape cartridges to Russia and that it was an “honest mistake” for them to end up in her bags.

Since Griner’s arrest, relatives, teammates and supporters have called on the US government to put its full weight behind the case to secure her release.

In September, Biden met with the Griner and Whelan families to keep them informed of his administration’s efforts.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in July that Washington is asubstantial proposalto Moscow to free the couple. Several US media outlets reported around that time that the Biden administration had offered a prisoner exchange involving a Russian arms dealer imprisoned in the US.

US officials have said they remain in talks with their Russian counterparts to secure the release of the two Americans.

Despite deteriorating ties between Washington and Moscow, Russia released Trevor Reed in April, a former United States Marine. In return, the US released Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was serving a 20-year prison sentence in the US for drug possession.



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