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WNBA star Brittney Griner has been transferred to a Russian penal colony after being sentenced to nine years in prison for allegedly possessing cannabis oil, according to the Associated Press.
Griner was moved from a detention center on November 4, according to her legal team, but they do not know where the penal colony she will be transferred to is located.
The White House released a statement on Monday morning condemning the latest development involving the professional basketball player.
“Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long. 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,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in the statement.
The press secretary also noted that the Biden administration has previously made offers to negotiate Griner’s release.
“As we have said before, the U.S. Government made a significant offer to the Russians to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions of American citizens,” Jean-Pierre said. “In the subsequent weeks, despite a lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians, the U.S. Government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with the Russians through all available channels.”
The statement also argued that the nation is committed to the release of Griner as well as American citizen Paul Whelan, who is also still held in Russia.
“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.
The latest update follows Griner’s failed appeal hearing in a Moscow regional court last month that upheld her lengthy sentence.
The Daily Wire previously reported that the Phoenix Mercury center and her legal team had hoped for an acquittal or reduction in the sentence that they believed was too severe and politically motivated.
“No judge, hand on heart, will honestly say that Griner’s nine-year sentence is in line with Russian criminal law,” Alexander Boykov, one of Griner’s lawyers, said according to Reuters.
He added, “if the court wants to punish her, [it should] give her a new, ‘fair’ verdict and mitigate the punishment. The severity and cruelty of the sentence applied to Griner shocks people around the world.”
Griner’s arrest occurred four days before Russia invaded Ukraine. The 6-foot, 9-inch center was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment in August, just shy of the 10-year maximum sentence.
“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said ahead of her verdict. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom.”