Brittney Griner being sent to Russian penal colony, her lawyers say

Brittney Griner
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a court room after her last words, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Brittney Griner being sent to Russian penal colony, her lawyers say

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WNBA star Brittney Griner is in the process of being moved to a Russian penal colony, her lawyers announced.

Her transfer began last month, a process that typically takes weeks or months, though her legal team doesn’t yet know where she is being sent, according to ESPN. Her family has reportedly been dreading the move, as the conditions of Russia’s penal colonies are much worse than the prison where Griner is currently being held.

“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,” said a statement from Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, per ESPN.


The Biden administration said it is doing everything in its power to bring Griner back to the United States.

“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. “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 was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison earlier this year on drug-related charges after being detained shortly after the invasion of Ukraine.

A Russian court denied her appeal in late October, and the Biden administration has maintained that the Russian government has refused to cooperate with the United States to free her, despite repeated good faith efforts from the Biden administration to broker a release.


Russia’s penal colonies, descended from the Russian Empire’s Siberian labor camps and Soviet gulags, are renowned for their harsh conditions, even garnering attention from state-linked news outlets in the country. Aside from the typical harsh conditions, torture from guards and fellow inmates is endemic; colonies such as IK-3 and IK-6 are particularly infamous, being known as “torture prisons,” according to Meduza.

Public outcry pushed the Russian government to pass a law more harshly punishing torture in December 2021, according to TASS. However, officials acknowledged that gathering evidence of torture would remain difficult, meaning it has likely done little to stem the problem.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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