Brittney Griner Moved to Penal Colony in Central Russia

Brittney Griner appears in a Russian Court on August 4, 2022. (Credit: YouTube)

Two weeks after Brittney Griner was transferred to an unknown Russian penal colony, with no details given to her attorneys or the U.S. Embassy on her whereabouts, she has been located.

In an update on Thursday, Reuters reported the WNBA star was moved to the region of Mordovia in central Russia to serve her 9-year sentence for drug possession.

A source told the outlet Griner is being held at female Penal Colony IK-2, about 300 miles southeast of Moscow.

Related Story: Brittney Griner Loses Appeal, Ordered to Serve 9-Year Sentence in Russian Penal Colony

Griner’s legal team later confirmed she is in Mordovia.

“Brittney is doing as well as could be expected and trying to stay strong as she adapts to a new environment,” her lawyers said in a statement to the Associated Press.

A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. government could not confirm details on where Griner is being held.

“We are aware of reports of her location, and in frequent contact with Ms. Griner’s legal team,” the spokesperson told Reuters. “However, the Russian Federation has still failed to provide any official notification for such a move of a U.S. citizen, which we strongly protest. The Embassy has continued to press for more information about her transfer and current location.”

Griner’s lawyers previously said she was transferred from prison to an unknown penal colony on Nov. 4, after a Russian court rejected the WNBA star’s appeal in October.

The Phoenix Mercury player and two-time Olympic gold medalist was detained at Moscow Airport on Feb. 17, after Russian officials said they found vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage. She was in Russia to play basketball during the off-season.

Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession in July and was sentenced on Aug. 4.

Paul Whelan, another American detainee, is serving a 16-year sentence in a different penal colony in the Mordovia region after being convicted of espionage charges, which he denies.

Russian penal colonies are essentially forced labor camps.

Reuters reports prisoners held in the camps “work long hours for meager pay on tedious manual tasks such as sewing.”

Other media outlets have said the facilities are known for “brutality, overcrowding and harsh conditions,” with little to no access to medical care.