Griner sent to Russian penal colony to serve sentence

A Russian court rejected an appeal of Brittney Griner’s nine-year sentence last month

November 09, 2022 04:39 pm | Updated 04:39 pm IST - MOSCOW:

U.S. Women’s National Basketball Association basketball player Brittney Griner. File.

U.S. Women’s National Basketball Association basketball player Brittney Griner. File. | Photo Credit: AFP

American basketball star Brittney Griner has been sent to a penal colony in Russia to serve her sentence for drug possession, her legal team said Wednesday.

A Russian court rejected an appeal of her nine-year sentence last month. The eight-time all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist was convicted August 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Watch | Why is this U.S. basketball star still in a Russian jail?

Her arrest came at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine, and the politically charged case could lead to a high-stakes prisoner exchange between Washington and Moscow.

Griner’s legal team said she left a detention center on November 4 for a penal colony — a common type of Russian prison where detainees work for minimal pay. Her lawyers said on Wednesday that they did not know exactly where she was or where she would end up — but that they expected to be notified when she reached her final destination. Such transfers can take days.

The 32-year-old star athlete, who was detained while returning to play for a Russian team during the WNBA’s offseason, has admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage. But she testified that she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent. Her defense team presented written statements that she had been prescribed cannabis to treat pain.

“Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “As we have said before, the U.S. Government made a significant offer to the Russians to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions of American citizens.”

The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to exchange Griner and Paul Whelan — an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage — for Viktor Bout. Bout is a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. and once earned the nickname the “merchant of death.”

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.