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Brittney Griner Moving to Penal Colony

Lawyers say the former Houstonian and WNBA star on her way to undisclosed location in Russia.

Brittney Griner
U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, is escorted in a court building in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia August 4, 2022. (Photo by Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool via REUTERS)

(CNN) — US women’s basketball star Brittney Griner is being moved to a Russian penal colony. She’ll serve the remainder of a nine-year drug smuggling sentence that was upheld in late October there.

Griner “is now on her way to a penal colony,” her attorneys said in a statement to CNN on Wednesday.

“We do not have any information on her exact current location or her final destination,” said attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov. “In accordance with the standard Russian procedure, the attorneys, as well as the US Embassy, should be notified upon her arrival at her destination. Notification is given via official mail and normally takes up to two weeks to be received.”

Russian penal colonies are known for their lack of hygiene and access to medical care. Inmates often required to perform manual labor.

Last month, Griner lost her appeal against her sentence. She was detained in February and convicted in August of smuggling drugs into Russia.

She has repeatedly apologized for bringing a small amount of cannabis into the country.  She was in Russia playing basketball in the off-season.

In a statement, Griner’s representatives said they don’t know where she is — or her condition.

Brittney Griner’s Condition Top Priority for Lawyers

“Our primary concern continues to be BG’s health and well-being,” Griner’s agent, Lindsay Colas, said. “As we work through this very difficult phase of not knowing exactly where BG is or how she is doing, we ask for the public’s support in continuing to write letters and express their love and care for her.”

Griner’s detention has raised concerns that she is being used as a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The US government condemned the denial of her appeal last week, with a State Department spokesperson calling it “another repudiation of justice, which only compounds the original injustice of her detention.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called news of Griner’s transfer “another injustice layered on her ongoing unjust and wrongful detention.”

“As we work to secure Brittney Griner’s release, we expect Russian authorities to provide our Embassy officials with regular access to all U.S. citizens detained in Russia, including Brittney, as is their obligation,” Blinken said in a statement Wednesday. “Ensuring the health and welfare of U.S. citizen detainees in Russia is a priority, and we will continue to press for fair and transparent treatment for them all.”

American officials “continue to work relentlessly to bring home” both Griner and Paul Whelan. He’s another American being held in Russia. Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison after he was convicted of espionage — charges he denies.

“We will not relent until they are reunited with their loved ones,” Blinken said.

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