U.S. Releases Statement on Brittney Griner’s Transfer to Russian Penal Colony

by Nick Geddes

The U.S. is reportedly protesting WNBA star Brittney Griner being moved to a Russian penal colony as she begins her nine-year prison sentence.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Wednesday that Griner’s transfer is another example of injustice.

“Following a sham trial and the unjust sentencing of Brittney Griner, Moscow is transferring her from a prison in Moscow to a remote penal colony,” Blinken said, via ESPN. “It is another injustice layered on her ongoing unjust and wrongful detention.”

Russia detained Griner, 32, on Feb. 17 for being in possession of vape cartridges containing hashish oil at a Russian airport. She was sentenced on Aug. 4 to nine years. The U.S. has been looking to organize a prisoner swap to bring Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan back into the states.

Blinken said in a separate post on Twitter that the U.S. “strongly” condemns Griner’s movement.

“We strongly protest the movement of Brittney Griner to a remote penal colony and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions,” Blinken wrote. “I am committed to bringing home Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan as soon as possible.”

Lawyers of Brittney Griner Disappointed in Russian Court Upholding Her Prison Sentence

A Russian court upheld Griner’s sentence on Oct. 25 — a decision which has left her lawyers disappointed. Griner’s attorneys, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, issued a statement to People.com after the decision was made.

“It is not what we expected,” the statement reads. “We are very disappointed. The verdict contains numerous defects and we hoped that the court of appeal would take them into consideration. We still think the punishment is excessive and contradicts to the existing court practice.”

Blagovolina and Boykov fear that Griner will have to serve the entirety of her sentence. The U.S. classifies Griner as wrongfully detained, though attempts to facilitate her return have been unsuccessful.

“She had hopes for today as each month, each day away from her family and friends matters to her,” they said.