(NEW YORK) — WNBA star Brittney Griner, who’s been detained in Russia since February and is facing nine years in a Russian prison, has been transferred to a penal colony.
The move was decried by White House officials.
“Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement early Wednesday. “As the Administration continues to work tirelessly to secure her release, the President has directed the Administration to prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony.”
Griner’s lawyers said in a statement that she was transferred on Nov. 4 from a detention center in Iksha. She’s now on her way to a penal colony in an undisclosed location.
“We do not have any information on her exact current location or her final destination,” the lawyers, Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a statement. “In accordance with the standard Russian procedure the attorneys, as well as the U.S. Embassy, should be notified upon her arrival at her destination.”
The White House said it had made a “significant offer” to Russian officials to “resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions of American citizens.”
“In the subsequent weeks, despite a lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians, the U.S. Government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with the Russians through all available channels,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
She added, “The U.S. Government is unwavering in its commitment to its work on behalf of Brittney and other Americans detained in Russia — including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan.”
Griner, a 31-year-old Houston native who plays professional basketball for the Phoenix Mercury, was detained on Feb. 17 at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Khimki as she returned to Russia to play during the WNBA’s offseason after she was accused of having vape cartridges containing hashish oil, which is illegal in the country.
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