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Blinken: Griner transfer to penal colony 'another injustice'

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Wednesday called Russia’s transfer of jailed American basketball star Brittney Griner to a penal colony “another injustice.”

“Following a sham trial and the unjust sentencing of Brittney Griner, Moscow is transferring her from a prison in Moscow to a remote penal colony. It is another injustice layered on her ongoing unjust and wrongful detention,” Blinken said in a statement. 

Russia detained the two-time Olympic gold medalist earlier this year after authorities said they found vape canisters of cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. Griner was convicted of drug possession in August and sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony.

Moscow rejected Griner’s appeal of her sentencing last month, and her legal team said Wednesday that the WNBA All-Star had been moved to the penal colony.

“Brittney was transferred from the detention center in Iksha on the 4th November. She is now on her way to a penal colony. We do not have any information on her exact current location or her final destination,” the statement from her legal team said.

Blinken said Wednesday that the State Department “will not relent” until Griner and Paul Whelan, another American detained by Moscow, are returned to the U.S. He pressed Russia for transparency on the detainees’ health and welfare.  

Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested on spying charges in 2018 and faces 16 years in prison. 

The U.S. has reportedly been in talks with Russia over a potential prisoner swap to secure Griner’s and Whelan’s release.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: The Hill

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