Brittney Griner: Basketball star tries to ‘stay strong’ in penal colony

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Brittney GrinerA basketball star tries to ‘stay strong’ in a penal colony

Brittney Griner is doing well under the circumstances, her lawyers report after the American basketball player visited a remote penal colony.

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Brittney Griner is doing well under the circumstances in the remote region of Mordovia, she told her lawyers. (archive image)

AFP/Kirill Kudryavtsev

American basketball Olympic champion Brittney Griner was transferred to a Russian penal colony.

American basketball Olympic champion Brittney Griner was transferred to a Russian penal colony.

AFP

She was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia for carrying a small amount of hemp oil.

She was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia for carrying a small amount of hemp oil.

AFP

American basketball player Brittney Griner, sentenced to nine years in prison for alleged drug smuggling in Russia, according to her lawyers to a remote Russian penal colony was relocated. Griner is now serving her sentence at the IK-2 penal camp in the Mordovia region, her lawyers said Thursday. Accordingly, lawyers were able to visit the 32-year-old earlier this week.

The star basketball player is doing well under the circumstances and is trying to “stay strong” as she adjusts to her new environment, the statement said. The IK-2 penal colony is located in the city of Yavas in central Russia, in the Mordovia region, known for its inhospitable climate. According to Russian prison authorities, there are more than 800 prisoners in the barracks camp.

The notorious penal colony

Russian penal colonies are notorious for their harsh treatment of prisoners, poor sanitary conditions and inadequate medical care. The prison conditions there are much harsher than in normal prisons. According to activists, abuse and torture are not uncommon in the Russian penal system.

Griner was sentenced in August to nine years in prison for drug trafficking. The 32-year-old WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist failed to appeal in late October.

The American basketball player, who also plays in Yekaterinburg, Russia, was arrested in February on her arrival at a Moscow airport after e-cigarette cartridges containing a small amount of cannabis oil were found in her luggage. Griner says he took cannabis to relieve pain from sports injuries. However, medical use of the drug is also illegal in Russia.

A prisoner exchange is being discussed

Griner’s case caused outrage in the United States. The US government is trying to release the basketball player. The fight for the imprisoned athlete comes against the backdrop of massive tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine.

Intelligence chiefs from both countries discussed US citizens detained in Russia earlier this week, according to the White House.

According to reports, Griner and former US soldier Paul Whelan could be exchanged for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year sentence in the US.

(AFP/chk)

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