U.S. basketballer Griner, convicted in Russia, transferred to penitentiary
MOSCOW. Nov 8 (Interfax) - U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, sentenced in Russia to nine years of imprisonment on drug contraband counts, has been transferred from a detention center to a penitentiary, Griner's lawyers told reporters on Wednesday.
"On November 4, our client Brittney Griner was transferred from the detention center where she was staying since the moment of her apprehension to a general penitentiary to serve her sentence. For now, we have no information about either her current location or where she is going," lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boikov said.
The defense said they and the U.S. embassy must be notified about Griner's arrival at her destination.
In October, the Moscow Region Court upheld the sentence of nine years in a general penitentiary handed down by the Khimki City Court in August. At the same time, the appeals court upheld a motion from the prosecution and recalculated the time spent by Griner in custody, credited to her term of punishment, as a day in a pre-trial detention center for one-and-a-half in a penitentiary instead of a day for a day, as ordered by the lower-tier court. Now that the time spent in custody has been recalculated, Griner will be serving about eight years in a penitentiary.
Griner was found guilty of illegal possession of drugs without intent to distribute and smuggling drugs in large quantities.
According to the case summary, on February 17, 2022, Griner arrived in Moscow on a plane from New York, and hashish oil was found in her luggage.
Griner told the court she pleaded partially guilty and explained that she did not intend to break the law and that she had inadvertently taken the drugs with her because she felt unwell. According to her, cartridges containing medical marijuana were prescribed to her by a doctor in the United States as painkillers.
U.S. officials repeatedly said they would seek Griner's release and return to her home country. U.S. President Joe Biden sent her a letter of support. Western media outlets reported that there had been discussions on swapping the basketball player and U.S. citizen Paul Whelan, convicted in Russia of spying, for Russian citizen Viktor Bout.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on October 26 that exchanges should be discussed in a quiet, information-tight atmosphere. "Any contacts regarding possible exchanges should be conducted in a completely information-tight and silent atmosphere," Peskov said at a press briefing when asked whether any negotiations on the Griner exchange are in progress.
Griner is a member of the U.S.A. Woman's National Basketball Team, two-time Olympic gold medal winners. In Russia, she played for the Yekaterinburg-based basketball club UMMC Ekaterinburg.