Brittney Griner Faces ‘Harsh, Life-Threatening’ Conditions During Russia Imprisonment

by Dustin Schutte
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Photo by EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Brittney Griner faces “harsh, life-threatening” conditions during her nine-year prison sentence in Russia. A report from Yahoo details the horrific conditions the WNBA star will likely endure.

According to the report, Griner will be transferred to a penal colony where she will be subject to “grueling labor and psychological torment.” Fromer prisoners detailed some of the harsh treatment that occurs within the system.

“Conditions in prisons and detention centers varied but were often harsh and life threatening,” a report on Russian human rights abuses said. “Overcrowding, abuse by guards and inmates, limited access to health care, food shortages, and inadequate sanitation were common in prisons, penal colonies, and other detention facilities.”

The report also indicates that prisoners can endure physical and sexual abuse by prison guards. One Russian history professor from George Washington University referred to Russia’s prison system as “grim.”

A court denied Griner’s appeal on Tuesday, meaning she’ll be forced to serve her nine-year prison sentence. Russian authorities detained the WNBA star in February after locating vape cartridges containing hashish oil while at an airport.

Griner’s best hope to return to the United States is for the government to reach an agreement with Russia.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Comments on Brittney Griner

Multiple celebrities and professional athletes have spoken out about Brittney Griner’s imprisonment for several months. NBA commissioner Adam Silver offered his thoughts on the situation during an interview with ESPN’s NBA Today.

Silver said the league continues to do whatever it can to help the WNBA star. He also admitted that it’s hard to know what steps come next.

“Back in May, and even earlier when she was first imprisoned, we were told by experts in the U.S. government, it was not in her interest to raise the profile of her incarceration beyond where it was,” Silver said. “They thought it would reduce the chances of her getting out.

“Beyond that, clearly, we shifted gears. We have been very public about our belief that she deserves to be released at this point … Any punishment at this point is dramatically disproportionate. There should be mercy to anyone in her position. We’ve had direct conversations with the White House, the State Department … we’re doing everything we know available to us at this point.”

Silver also acknowledged that the league has become frustrated with the situation, considering it doesn’t know what else can be done to help bring Griner home.

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