WNBA star Brittney Griner transferred to Russian forced labor camp
WNBA star Brittney Griner has been moved to a Russian forced labor camp, nearly nine months after the basketball player was arrested in Russia for allegedly possessing cannabis oil.
The development is the latest update after Griner's appeal of her 9-year sentence was denied by a Russian court last month. The White House released a statement early Wednesday morning condemning the move.
“Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in the statement.
“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,” the statement continued.
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“The U.S. Government is unwavering in its commitment to its work on behalf of Brittney and other Americans detained in Russia – including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan,” Jean-Pierre concluded.
Griner will face harsh conditions in the forced labor camp, and it will be difficult for her family to contact her or even know her exact location. According to her agent Lindsay Colas, Griner's team is in close contact with the U.S. government and the Richardson Center, an organization that works to release American detainees.
“Our primary concern continues to be BG’s [Brittney Griner's] health and well-being,” Lindsay Colas said on Wednesday.
“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,” Griner's agent added.
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Griner was visiting Russia to compete in the WBNA offseason in February when Russian authorities found cannabis oil in her luggage. She was promptly arrested for possessing the vape cartridges and was later sentenced to nine years in prison.
On Griner's 32nd birthday last month, her representatives released a statement thanking her supporters.
“Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home. All the support and love are definitely helping me,” Griner said from prison, according to the statement.
The U.S. government has engaged in prisoner swap talks with Russia, but there appears to be no significant progress. “Putin’s Playbook” author Rebekah Koffler told Fox News that tense relations over the Russo-Ukrainian War have impacted the negotiations.
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“This is another case that demonstrates that Americans are not safe in Russia, especially Americans of Russian descent and especially now when the relations between Moscow and Washington are at the lowest point in history, including the Cold War,” the intelligence expert said last month.
Reuters and Fox News' Ryan Gaydos and Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.