STORY: U.S. officials Wednesday condemned the transfer of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner to an undisclosed Russian penal colony after authorities moved her from a detention center outside Moscow last week.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted Wednesday (quote):
“We strongly protest the movement of Brittney Griner to a remote penal colony and the Russian government's use of wrongful detentions”
The WNBA, in a statement also responded, saying it was "crushed" by the move, calling it a "scary, seemingly never-ending nightmare," adding "the lack of clarity and transparency in the process compounds the pain."
The two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested on Feb. 17 - a week before Russia invaded Ukraine - at a Moscow airport, where she was found to have vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is banned in Russia, in her luggage.
32 year-old Griner was sentenced in August to nine years in a penal colony. She had pleaded guilty, but said she had made an "honest mistake" and had not meant to break the law.
GRINER ON AUGUST 4, 2022: "My parents taught me two important things: one - take ownership for your responsibilities, and two - work hard for everything that you have."
Inmates in Russian penal colonies face a harsh regime of tedious manual work, poor hygiene and lack of adequate access to medical care.
The Biden administration in late July proposed a prisoner swap with Russia to secure Griner's release, as well as that of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, but said Moscow had yet to respond positively to the offer.