WNBA star Brittney Griner has been moved to a Russian forced labor camp, her Russian legal team announced early Wednesday in Moscow.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday in a statement that the transfer is “another injustice layered on her ongoing unjust and wrongful detention.”
“As we work to secure Brittney Griner’s release, we expect Russian authorities to provide our Embassy officials with regular access to all U.S. citizens detained in Russia, including Brittney, as is their obligation,” Blinken said. “Ensuring the health and welfare of U.S. citizen detainees in Russia is a priority, and we will continue to press for fair and transparent treatment for them all.”
“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 a statement early Wednesday morning. “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.”
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, released a statement Tuesday night, “Our primary concern continues to be BG’s health and well-being. 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.”
A Moscow court denied U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner’s appeal in October to overturn a nine-year prison sentence for being caught with drugs.
Authorities in Moscow arrested Griner on Feb. 17 after she attempted to leave the country with marijuana, which her lawyers claimed she used for medicinal purposes but is banned in Russia.
The WNBA player and Olympic gold medalist was sentenced on Aug. 4 to nine years in prison.
“It terrifies me because, I mean, when you watch movies, like, sometimes those situations don’t end well. Sometimes they never get the person back,” Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, told CBS News.
Griner pleaded guilty to charges of drug possession and smuggling in July, but denied malicious intent, according to Reuters.