American basketball champion Brittney Griner has been transferred to a penal colony in central Russia to serve a long prison sentence for “drug trafficking”, her lawyers announced Thursday.
“Brittney began serving her sentence at (penal colony) IK-2 in Mordovia,” a region in central Russia known for its prisons and harsh climate, the lawyers said Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boïkov in a statement, adding that they had been able to visit their client earlier this week.
The 32-year-old sportswoman is “doing as well as possible and trying to stay strong and adapt to her new surroundings”, added the lawyers, stressing that their client was going through a “very difficult time”.
< p>His transfer comes after the rejection of his request to appeal following a heavy nine-year prison sentence in August for “drug trafficking”, after his arrest in February at a Moscow airport in possession of a vape containing cannabis oil liquid.
Its supporters denounce a condemnation to an excessive and politically motivated sentence, with a view to a possible exchange of prisoners between Moscow and Washington, whose relations have been greatly strained in the context of the conflict in Ukraine.
The The White House estimated last week that “every minute Brittney Griner has to endure unjustified detention in Russia is a minute too long.”
The IK-2 penal colony, short for “correctional colony” in Russian number 2”, is located in the city of Iavas in Mordovia and has more than 800 prisoners.
Russian penal colonies are notorious for the mistreatment of their prisoners, who are crammed into unsanitary barracks and often without access to adequate care.
Human rights NGOs regularly denounce the abuses and acts of torture committed in Russian prisons, often by detainees who have good relations with the guards in ec hang privileges.