Brittney Griner has finally been found.
Griner was reportedly transferred to a Russian penal colony, roughly 300 miles southeast of Moscow, where she is expected to serve out a nine-year prison sentence for drug smuggling. This is actually welcome news since the U.S. had no clue about her whereabouts for up to two weeks.
The WNBA star has been placed at Female Penal Colony IK-2 in Yavas, which is in the region of Mordovia – the same area where American Paul Whelan is being held, according to Reuters.
“We are aware of the reports of her location and in frequent contact with Ms. Griner’s legal team, but the Russian Federation has still failed to provide any official notification for such a move of a U.S. citizen, which we strongly protest and disagree with,” principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said during a press briefing on Tuesday.
“Our mission in our embassy in Russia has continued to press for more information about her transfer and her specific current location. Following this sham trial and the unjust sentencing, the Russian Federation is transferring her from a prison to a remote penal colony.”
Griner was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow back in February after Russian officials said she was carrying vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Despite pleading guilty to the charges, the two-time Olympic gold medalist claimed she did not intend to break the law.
She was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison in August and her appeal was denied last month.
President Biden has hope that the Russian government will work with him to get her freed, however, Russia has yet to have any meaningful discussions on the subject.
“Well, the fact is, and what the president was alluding to, is the fact that the Russians up until now have not engaged with the seriousness of purpose in the constructive approach that we would have liked to have seen. We put forward this substantial proposal, as Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken announced a number of months ago now, for the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner,” Price said.
“The fact that Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner remain behind bars – Brittney Griner for some 10 months now, Paul Whelan for more than three years now – is a testament to the fact that this process has not moved as quickly as we would have liked. You’ve heard us say that from our end. This process has not been static. We put forward this substantial proposal. We’ve had discussions with the Russians. Those discussions are continuing. We’re continuing to look for ways that we can secure as quickly as possible the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, so that they can be returned to their loved ones here in the United States.”
Washington has maintained that Griner has been “wrongfully detained.”