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With Brittney Griner set to be transferred to a Russian penal colony, what happens now to the WNBA star?

With Russia seemingly engaging in strong armed negotiation tactics, the race to arrange Griner’s release from prison has just become even more intense.

Update:
With Brittney Griner set to be transferred to a Russian penal colony, what happens now to the WNBA star?
EVGENIA NOVOZHENINAAFP

If ever there was a time for diplomatic relations to bear fruit, it would be right now as the WNBA star looks set to face what can only be described as a nightmare situation in Russia.

Brittney Griner set to be transferred to penal colony

According to statements from her legal team in Moscow on Wednesday, Russian authorities have begun the process to transfer WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner to a Russian penal colony. The news comes as a major blow to Griner’s hopes after she was initially convicted of drug related charges back in August. Most recently, Griner had seen an already doubtful appeal denied on October 25th, which in turn opened the door for her to be moved from her Moscow prison to far more severe conditions. To be clear, penal colonies are infamous for forced labor and frequent prisoner abuse. In case you missed it, Griner is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence.

As per reports, Griner’s transfer commenced on Friday, just one day after U.S. embassy officials met with her. Griner’s attorneys reportedly said such transfers typically take weeks or months, which is to say this is way earlier than expected. Even more serious, is the fact that Griner’s legal representatives have indicated that they no longer have knowledge of her current location. This is due to the fact, that information regarding her final destination is sent via physical mail, meaning it could be two weeks before there is any clarity.

Brittney Griner’s agent calls on public for help

With the situation becoming increasingly more desperate, Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas released a statement asking for public support in the matter:

“Our primary concern continues to be BG’s health and well-being. 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.”

Additionally, the WNBA itself also released its own statement in the wake of news of Griner’s imminent transfer. Take a look for yourself:

At the moment, it remains uncertain what kind of impact this will have on ongoing negotiations between the U.S.A. and Russia. To date, it is understood that American officials had put a 2-for-1 deal on the table with convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout going in direction and Griner and Paul Whelan coming in the other. Russia, however, has demanded more and as such, we now have a stalemate in an extremely high-profile prisoner exchange.

The White House weighs in on Brittney Griner’s transfer

Speaking on the disturbing news of Griner’s pending transfer, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre released the following statement in which the Biden administration’s commitment to returning both prisoners was reaffirmed:

“Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long. 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. 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. 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. 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.