Categories: US

Brittney Griner ‘is at a disadvantage as an American’ in Russia’s brutal penal colony

An advocate for a Russian prison rights organization has said Brittney Griner’s American nationality will be a “disadvantage” in the already brutal penal colony system, while her sexuality will also make her a “threat” within prison.

Griner – who has been in Russian custody since February for allegedly being found with cannabis oil – was transferred from a detention center to a penal colony on November 4, according to her legal team.

And while it’s unclear to which penal colony the WNBA star was transferred, according to Olga Romanova of the Russia Behind Bars group, she faces the prospect of leaving the colony “as a different person.”

Speak with Politics Earlier this month — before news broke of Griner’s move to the colony — Romanova painted a totally bleak picture of the conditions the basketball player will endure.

Interestingly, she said that women’s colonies are considered more dangerous than men’s in her work, because the former lacks the “unspoken rules of conduct” and the “unofficial power brokers” of the latter.

Brittney Griner holds a photo of her team as she is held in a prison cell in August this year

“Everyone is there for themselves. Everything goes – you can betray, you can abuse. There are no rules of conduct.

“I don’t think anyone would protect her. Americans won’t believe me, but human rights don’t exist in Russian colonies – no right to health, dignity or life. Nothing forgets it.’

Griner’s appeal against her nine-year sentence was rejected by the Russian government last month, and her lawyers said on Wednesday she was not sure exactly where their client was.

According to Amnesty International, trips to a colony can take “two weeks to a month or more,” the trips described as “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

According to the State Department, prisoners in penal colonies face poor sanitation, food shortages, limited access to health care and even physical and sexual violence in penal colonies.

Inmates are also subject to extremely long work days, with Romanova said Griner will “probably get jumped in the bathroom” and “hear insults that no one should ever hear.”

“The Russian government taught the people a long time ago that Americans are the enemy of humanity,” she said.

Griner’s legal efforts to avoid her nine-year prison sentence in a penal colony were exhausted

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While there is great concern over the release of Griner – who the US State Department says has been wrongly detained – little progress appears to have been made on that front.

President Joe Biden said the US administration has received “no positive response” from Russia despite their continued efforts to free Griner, while Russia was unwilling to engage in a prisoner swap that would see her released.

“As we work towards the release of Brittney Griner, we expect Russian authorities to grant our embassy officials regular access to all US citizens detained in Russia, including Brittney, as is their obligation,” a State Department statement said. Tuesday.

“Ensuring the health and well-being of detainees of US citizens in Russia is a priority, and we will continue to push for fair and transparent treatment of all of them.”

Griner’s legal team was unsure of her exact whereabouts earlier this week

A view of the penal colony where Maria Alyokhina, an imprisoned member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, was held in Nizhny Novgorod on December 19, 2013

The US government has approached Russia about bartering involving both Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, who was arrested in the country in 2018 on charges of espionage.

But while Russia has seemingly resisted US attempts to get Griner home, there is rather precedent for a prisoner swap between the two nations.

The Biden administration conducted a prisoner swap in April, freeing Moscow Navy veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for the US release of a Russian pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, who had been convicted of a drug-trafficking conspiracy.

Moscow has also protested the arrest of another Russian currently in US custody, Alexander Vinnik, who was accused of laundering billions of dollars through an illegal cryptocurrency exchange. Vinnik was in custody in Greece after being arrested there at the request of the US in 2017, before being extradited to the US in August. It was not clear whether Russia would demand Vinnik’s release as part of a possible swap.

Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, appeared to admit her wife’s guilt when she spoke to CBS last month, but condemned the punishment Brittney received.

“I think a crime should justify punishment,” Cherelle noted. “But it has to be balanced… BG has really suffered more than her crime.”

Jacky

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