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Lesbian basketball champion Brittney Griner has been sent to a Russian penal colony, according to her lawyers and agent.
It comes a little over a week after her lawyers shared that her transfer from a detention center in Iksha to a penal colony had commenced. She's been sent to a camp in the Western part of the country called Mordovia, which is about a seven-hour drive by car from Moscow.
"We can confirm that Brittney began serving her sentence at IK-2 in Mordovia," Griner's legal team said in a statement to The Advocate. "We visited her early this week. Brittney is doing as well as could be expected and trying to stay strong as she adapts to a new environment. Considering that this is a very challenging period for her, there will be no further comments from us."
The news of her being sent to the penal colony in Mordovia was also confirmed by her agent, Lindsay Colas.
"Despite the fact she is alone and now nearing her ninth month in detention separated from her loved ones, she is trying to stay strong," Colas said.
Colas encouraged supporters to keep writing to Griner at www.wearebg.org.
Griner, a lesbian who played center for the Phoenix Mercury and won two gold medals playing for the U.S. National Team, was detained by the Federal Customs Service in February after vape cartridges with illegal hashish oil were found in her luggage.
This summer, Griner pleaded guilty and was convicted on drug charges, and sentenced to nine years in prison. She said she brought the cartridges, for which she had a prescription and used for relief for chronic pain, into Russia by accident and didn't intend to break the law. She later appealed her conviction, but a Russian court subsequently upheld the decision and sentence.
The Biden administration maintains that Griner has been wrongfully detained.
"Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement earlier this month. "As the Administration continues to work tirelessly to secure her release, the President has directed the Administration to prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony."
Russian penal colonies differ by location, according to the U.S. State Department, but it notes that political prisoners are known to be put in harsh conditions. Abuse and torture have also been reported at these facilities.