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Brittney Griner has been transferred to a penal colony in western Russia, her lawyers say

Brittney Griner has been transferred to a penal colony in western Russia, her lawyers say



CNN

American basketball star Brittney Griner was transferred to penal colony in Yavas, in the western Russian region of Mordovia, her lawyers said Thursday, ending days of speculation about her whereabouts.

Her lawyers, Marija Blagovolina and Aleksandar Bojkov, thanked everyone who provided support.

“First, on behalf of Brittney, we would like to thank everyone who has expressed concern for her,” the statement said. “We can confirm that Brittney has started serving her sentence at IK-2 in Mordovia.

“We visited her at the beginning of this week. Brittney is coping as expected and trying to stay strong as she adjusts to her new environment. Given that this is a very challenging period for her, there will be no further comment from us.”

On Wednesday, the US State Department said it had been in contact with Griner’s legal team and was aware of reports that she had been sent to a penal colony about seven hours’ drive southeast of Moscow.

Watch Brittney Griner speak before the Russian court that upheld the conviction

“However, the Russian Federation has still not submitted any official notification for such a move by an American citizen, which is why we strongly protest. The embassy continued to press for more information about her transfer and current location,” the spokesperson said.

Griner’s representatives previously confirmed that she was transferred from the Iksha detention center on November 4 – and was destined for a penal colony – but “we have no information on her exact current location or her final destination. In accordance with standard Russian procedure, lawyers, as well as the US embassy, ​​should be notified of her arrival at her destination. The notice is sent by official mail and usually takes up to two weeks to be received.”

The Olympic gold medalist and former WNBA champion is trying to stay strong after nine months of separation from her loved ones, her agent Lindsay Colas said.

“We will not be sharing any further details at this time, but we want to express our deepest gratitude to the Biden administration, the Richardson Center and everyone who offered her words of encouragement,” she said. Letters poured in from all over the world, and BG was encouraged by the support. Every letter is important and we encourage everyone to keep writing and share your support.”

The Richardson Center for Global Engagement “promotes global peace and dialogue by identifying and working on areas of opportunity for engagement and citizen diplomacy with countries and communities not typically open to more formal diplomatic channels,” says its website.

The primary concern is Griner’s health and well-being, Colas said earlier this week.

While conditions differ among Russian penal coloniespolitical prisoners are often placed in harsh conditions where they can be subjected to “solitary confinement or penal stay in psychiatric units”, says the State Department’s human rights report.

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Bill Richardson suggests that Griner and Whelan could be released by the end of the year

Russian law also allows forced labor in penal colonies, and in some cases prisoners are tortured to death, the report said. There are also reports of prison authorities recruiting inmates to abuse other inmates, the report added.

That Griner’s team didn’t know his whereabouts beforehand is not unusual. Transfers to penal colonies are secret processes in Russia, and relatives and lawyers often do not know where the prisoner is being sent for several days, he said. International amnesty.

Last month, Griner lost the appeal against a nine-year sentence for drugs. She was taken into custody in February and sentenced in August after admitting to possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis. She has repeatedly apologized for bringing a small amount of the substance into the country, where she played basketball in the offseason.

Mordovia is the same region where American Paul Whelan is being held. A former US Marine is serving 16 years in another penal colony on espionage charges he denies.

Griner’s detention has raised concerns that she is being used as a political pawn Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Most Russian prisons are penal colonies, where prisoners are housed in barracks and often put to work, he says. report by the Polish think tank Center for Eastern Studies, known as OSW. More than 800 such facilities existed across Russia as of 2019, the organization said.

Built during the Soviet Union, most colonies have been compared to Soviet-era gulags; camps that spread across the region during the reign of Joseph Stalin in the mid-20th century.

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Biden met with the families of prisoners in Russia

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– Source: CNN

Russia has nearly half a million prisoners in its facilities, one of the highest rates in Europe, according to the data World Prison Briefbut the number has declined in recent years – unlike most parts of the world.

The level of supervision and restrictions placed on prisoners today depends on the institution to which they are sentenced. Not all require labor, but several prominent dissidents, activists, and foreign nationals who were sent to the colonies describe harrowing and difficult experiences.

Prisoners are often taken long distances across the country. Travels to the colonies are dangerous and can last up to a month, according to Amnesty International. Travel often takes place in cramped carriages, and prisoners often arrive in overcrowded facilities with poor and outdated infrastructure, OSW found.

“Despite several attempts to reform the prison system in Russia, they still resemble the Soviet Gulag,” the organization said. “Human rights violations and torture are common.”



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