Attorneys for Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner announced in a statement Wednesday that the eight-time WNBA all-star has been transferred to a penal colony in an undisclosed location within Russia.
The transfer started last Friday, one day after officials from the U.S. Embassy visited her in detention in Moscow. State Department officials noted that they were not notified that Griner was moved until Tuesday and stated the move was ahead of the schedule they had anticipated since a Russian court denied an appeal of the drug charges against Griner October 25.
The White House put out a statement Wednesday calling for Griner’s release and criticizing the Russian government.
“Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wrote. “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.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a separate statement, called Griner’s continuing imprisonment “another injustice layered on her ongoing unjust and wrongful detention,” while also expressing support for U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is detained in Russia as well.
Griner has been detained since being arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow in February when custom officials found vape cartridges containing small amounts of hashish. She was convicted in August and sentenced to nine years in prison.
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, released a statement Tuesday on plans among supporters, including with the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, to get Griner released.
“Our primary concern continues to be BG’s health and well-being,” Colas noted. “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.”