Brittney Griner Moved to Russian Penal Colony

US basketball star Brittney Griner has been moved to a Russian penal colony to serve her sentence for drug possession and smuggling, her legal team reported on Wednesday.

Brittney Griner Moved to Russian Penal Colony
Image credit: Associated Press

Facts

  • US basketball star Brittney Griner has been moved to a Russian penal colony to serve her sentence for drug possession and smuggling, her legal team reported on Wednesday.
  • Griner was arrested at a Moscow on Feb. 17 — a week before Russia's invasion of Ukraine — after she was found with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. She subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years imprisonment on Aug. 4.
  • At a hearing last month, judges rejected Griner's appeal. US officials consider her 9-year sentence as unlawful detention.
  • Griner’s legal team said she left the detention center in Moscow on Nov. 4 and was being transported to an unspecified colony. The lawyers added they didn’t know her exact whereabouts or exactly where she was being taken, but they expected to be informed along with the US embassy when she reaches her final destination.
  • On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement: "Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long." The statement also noted that the admin. is working “tirelessly” for her release.
  • Previously this year, the US proposed to swap Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and former US contractor Paul Whelan, an American sentenced to 16 years in Russia for espionage. US officials are reportedly continuing to follow up on the offer.

Sources: Associated Press, Guardian, NBC, and New York Post.

Narratives

  • Anti-Russia narrative, as provided by CNN. Regardless of how Russia wants to classify its holding of Griner, the US has made persistent advances to try to secure her release but there has been no cooperation from Moscow. Russia should stop playing games and negotiate for her and Whelan’s release.
  • Pro-Russia narrative, as provided by RT. Russia has no use for theatrics from the US and would only negotiate in a quiet setting out of the public eye. Nonetheless, Griner isn’t "wrongfully held" — she's incarcerated because she violated Russian law, and the punishment fits the crime.