Brittney Griner transferred to all-female penal colony in Mordovia region

Source: Hot Air

Brittney Griner has been moved to an all-female Russian penal colony about 300 miles southeast of Moscow, according to reporting. She will serve out her nine-year prison sentence for drug smuggling there, unless she is released early.

The WNBA star was moved to Female Penal Colony IK-2 in Yavas, which is in the region of Mordovia. This is the same area where American Paul Whelan is being held. Whelan is being held on espionage charges. The State Department said that the White House has not been notified of her transfer or received confirmation of where she was taken.

“We are aware of the reports of her location and in frequent contact with Ms. Griner’s legal team, but the Russian Federation has still failed to provide any official notification for such a move of a U.S. citizen, which we strongly protest and disagree with,” principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

“Our mission in our embassy in Russia has continued to press for more information about her transfer and her specific current location. Following this sham trial and the unjust sentencing, the Russian Federation is transferring her from a prison to a remote penal colony.”

Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug smuggling in August. Her appeal was denied in October. Earlier this month I wrote about Brittney’s transfer to a penal colony but the location was unknown. This appears to be it.

The State Department and Russian officials have conducted quiet negotiations for a prisoner swap – the release of Griner and Whelan for the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, a.k.a. the “Merchant of Death”, and Vadim Krasikov, a Russian military colonel convicted of murdering a Chechen fighter in 2019. Nothing much was being accomplished and the next thing we know, the families of both Americans began to launch a campaign in the media to apply pressure on the White House to get a deal done. After the prisoner swap for American Trevor Reed, a Texan and former Marine, was successfully accomplished, the other families got the message. In order to get attention from Team Biden, they have to get loud and get in the press. Unfortunately, the Russians didn’t appreciate the unwanted publicity for imprisoning Americans and shut down the prison swap negotiations. They said negotiations have to be done in quiet.

Yes, Brittney did wrong. She violated Russian law by bringing in her vape cannisters of cannabis oil, allegedly prescribed for pain, whether intentionally placing them in her luggage or unintentionally. Russians don’t care if she did it on purpose or it was just a lazy mistake during packing. She broke their drug laws and she was found guilty. Americans traveling overseas have to be aware of international laws and obey them. We expect visitors to our country to abide by our laws.

However, she is an American in a Russian prison. Russian prisons are known to be brutal places with no regard for human rights. Even a basketball player for a Russian team in the off-season will not escape abuse. It may backfire and make her life more difficult because of her notoriety, to use her as an example to others. Putin’s invasion into Ukraine complicates things. The United States provides the majority of financial and military equipment support to Ukraine. There is no question that America supports Ukraine over Russia.

We have to hope that Griner will continue to be allowed to have visits by officials from the U.S. embassy, as they were earlier this month. Sleepy Joe said that now that the midterm elections are over, he hoped Russia was more willing to negotiate the release of Griner and Whelan. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Russia has not reached out for more discussions.

“Well, the fact is, and what the president was alluding to, is the fact that the Russians up until now have not engaged with the seriousness of purpose in the constructive approach that we would have liked to have seen. We put forward this substantial proposal, as Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken announced a number of months ago now, for the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner,” Price said.

“The fact that Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner remain behind bars – Brittney Griner for some 10 months now, Paul Whelan for more than three years now – is a testament to the fact that this process has not moved as quickly as we would have liked. You’ve heard us say that from our end. This process has not been static. We put forward this substantial proposal. We’ve had discussions with the Russians. Those discussions are continuing. We’re continuing to look for ways that we can secure as quickly as possible the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, so that they can be returned to their loved ones here in the United States.”

Let’s hope the Biden administration finds some level of competence and is able to reach a deal to get the Americans back home again.