WNBA star Brittney Griner has reportedly begun serving her nine-year sentence at a Russian penal colony.
According to The Associated Press, Brittney’s attorneys and agent announced, on Nov. 17, that she’s begun serving her sentence for drug possession. She was reportedly transferred to a penal colony in Mordovia–about 210 miles east of Russia’s capital, Moscow–after a Russian court, in October, rejected the appeal of her sentence.
That month, News Onyx reported that a Russian court denied the Phoenix Mercury all-star center’s appeal of her harsh sentence after initially being detained in February. At the time, customs agents at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport alleged that they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage.
“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 recent statement. They also shared that they visited her earlier in the week.
During her trial, the two-time Olympic gold medalist allegedly admitted to having the canisters in her luggage. However, she maintained her innocence in court, saying she had no intention of breaking Russian law when she flew to Moscow to play basketball in Yekaterinburg. Her defense team additionally presented written statements saying she had been prescribed cannabis for chronic pain.
Brittney was convicted in August and sentenced to nine years in prison. The Biden administration has been attempting to negotiate her release for months.
“My hope is that now that the election is over, that Mr. Putin will be able to discuss with us and be willing to talk more seriously about a prisoner exchange,” Biden said at a news conference on Nov. 9. He reportedly hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin would be willing to negotiate the sports star’s release since the U.S. midterm elections ended.
Brittney’s wife, Cherelle Griner, revealed that the WNBA player’s Russian prison sentence “terrifies” her.