Greiner began serving sentence in Russian penal colony

WASHINGTON—WNBA star Britney Griner has begun serving a nine-year sentence for drug possession in a Russian penal colony, her attorney and agent said Thursday.

Griner was transferred to a penal colony in Mordovia, about 350 kilometers (210 miles) east of Moscow, after a Russian court rejected her appeal against her sentence last month.

Her attorney said he visited her earlier this week.

“Britney is doing well as expected and is trying to stay strong as she adapts to her new surroundings,” her attorney said in a statement.

WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist All-Star Center said in February that customs officials had found an e-cigarette canister containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. detained.

At trial, Griner admitted that she had a canister in her luggage, but testified that she had inadvertently stuffed it in her haste to catch a flight and had no criminal intent. released a statement saying he was prescribed cannabis to treat his acute pain.

She was convicted in August and sentenced to nine years in prison.

The Biden administration has spent months trying to negotiate the release of Griner and another American imprisoned in Russia, Michigan corporate security officer Paul Whelan, including a possible prisoner exchange with Moscow. Came. Whelan was also convicted of espionage-related charges in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison before being sent to a Mordovian penal colony.

President Joe Biden told reporters last week that he hoped Russian President Vladimir Putin would be more willing to negotiate Griner’s release now that the US midterm elections are over.

“Now that the election is over, I hope Putin will talk to us and talk more seriously about prisoner swaps,” Biden said.

Eric Tucker

Associated Press