US women’s basketball star Brittney Griner is about to be transferred to a Russian penal colony where she will have to serve the remainder of a nine-year sentence for drug trafficking that was upheld in late October.
Griner “is now on his way to a penal colony,” his lawyers said in a statement on CNN Wednesday.
“We have no information on its exact current location or its final destination,” said lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov. “Under Russian standard procedure, attorneys, as well as the US embassy, should be notified when he arrives at his destination. Notification is given via official mail and normally takes up to two weeks to receive.
Russian penal colonies are notorious for their lack of hygiene and access to medical care, with inmates often subjected to manual labor.
Last month, Griner lost his appeal against a nine-year drug sentence. She was arrested in February and sentenced in August for intentionally smuggling drugs into Russia.
She has repeatedly apologized for bringing a small amount of cannabis to the country where she played basketball in the off-season.
In a statement, Griner’s representatives confirmed that they did not know their current location or condition.
“Our primary concern continues to be BG’s health and wellbeing,” said his agent Lindsay Colas. “As we go through this very difficult phase where we don’t know exactly where BG is or how she is doing, we ask for the support of the public to continue writing letters and expressing their love and care for her.”
Griner’s detention has raised concerns that she will be used as a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
The US government condemned the rejection of his appeal last week, with a State Department spokesperson calling it “another repudiation of justice, only aggravating the original injustice of his detention.”