A photo of a field with a city in the distance

“As we have said before, the U.S. Government made a significant offer to the Russians to resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions of American citizens.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on the news that Brittney Griner is being transferred to a Russian penal colony – a type of prison where detainees perform labor for minimal pay.

Published on

nov 9, 2022

Background: Brittney Griner (32) – one of the top U.S. women's basketball players, who also plays for a Russian team during off seasons – was detained for illegally smuggling drugs into Russia in February (a few days before Russia invaded Ukraine). Griner, who has been at a detention center in Russia, was sent to a penal colony on November 4, her lawyers said.

Why It Matters: Russian penal colonies are a type of prison in which individuals work for minimal pay. A 2021 State Department report on Russia's human rights practices found most Russian prisons had "harsh and life-threatening conditions" and that authorities in some colonies "systematically tortured inmates." The U.S. has made an offer to Russia to secure the release of Griner and Paul Whelan, another "wrongfully detained" American. Offers have been met with "a lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians," Jean-Pierre said.

Statement by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on the Continued Wrongful Detention of American Brittney Griner (The White House)

Griner sent to Russian penal colony to serve sentence (The Associated Press)

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