The U.S. government is “strongly” protesting the transfer of WNBA star Brittney Griner to a Russian labor prison rumored to be somewhere in Siberia.
Griner, 32, was reportedly transferred to a penal colony where she will serve hard labor working 16 hours a day.
Her exact whereabouts are unknown, according to U.S. officials and Griner’s Russian lawyers.
The eight-time WNBA All-Star was convicted on Aug. 4 of smuggling cannabis oil into Russia.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted on Wednesday, “We strongly protest the movement of Brittney Griner to a remote penal colony and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions. I am committed to bringing home Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan as soon as possible.”
We strongly protest the movement of Brittney Griner to a remote penal colony and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions. I am committed to bringing home Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan as soon as possible.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) November 9, 2022
Griner’s prison sentence was reduced to less than 7 years by an appeals court last month after denying Griner’s request for an appeal.
Russian media outlets report Griner was moved from a women’s pre-trial detention center to the Russian labor prison after the appeals hearing.
According to ESPN, her attorneys and U.S. officials were not aware she had been moved until Tuesday. They have no idea where she is and may not know her exact location for weeks. Griner’s family is anxious to know where she is.
According to Griner’s Russian lawyers, “Notification is given via official mail and normally takes up to two weeks to be received.”
Russian labor camps are known for their harsh conditions that are more brutal than the women’s detention center in Moscow where Griner was detained since February.
“Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted early Wednesday morning.
Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long.
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) November 9, 2022
“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,” she said.