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, convicted of possession of a small amount of cannabis oil andShe was transferred from a detention center on November 4, her Russian 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 transfers by mail, which can take 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, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reached out to Russia to propose a deal to free her despite rising tensions.
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.”
Blinken issued a statement on Wednesday criticizing Russia’s decision to transfer Griner “to a remote penal colony” as “another injustice overlaying their continued unjust and unlawful detention.”
“We expect that the Russian authorities will grant our embassy officials regular access to all US citizens detained in Russia, including Brittney, as per their obligation,” Blinken said, adding that the Biden administration “continues to push for fair and transparent treatment.” ‘ all Americans are being held in Russia.
Griner, a two-time Olympic basketball gold medalist and WNBA champion, had been to Russia during her offseason off the Phoenix Mercury WNBA team to play for the Yekaterinburg pro team.
She said the cannabis in the vape cartridges was prescribed to her in the US to treat pain from sports injuries, but Russia does not allow marijuana use, even for medicinal purposes.
Reports indicate that Griner and another American detained in Russia– a retired US Marine arrested in December 2018 and accused of espionage – a famous Russian arms dealer who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012.