Jailed basketball star Brittney Griner transferred to remote Russian penal colony

Basketball star Brittney Griner is shown handcuffed against a sepia-toned background with Russian guards behind her

US basketball star Brittney Griner has been transferred from a detention centre to a Russian penal colony.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist was arrested in February after Russian officers reportedly found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport.

Griner, 32, was sentenced in August to nine years in a penal colony after pleading guilty, stating that she had made an “honest mistake” and “never meant to hurt anybody”.

Now the basketball player has been transferred to a penal colony, with her legal team claiming that her whereabouts and final destination are unknown, The Guardian has reported.

A penal colony is a prison that is separated from the general population and usually in a remote location.

Brittney Griner holds photos inside a defendants' cage before a Russian court hearing

Brittney Griner’s wife said she’s felt “every minute of the gruelling seven months” without the WNBA star. (Getty)

The notification about her arrival to her destination should reportedly take up to two weeks to be received.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says president Joe Biden continues to press Russia for Griner’s release, or an improvement to her treatment.

She said in a statement on Twitter: “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.”

The US Government is unwavering in its commitment to its work on behalf of Brittney and other Americans detained in Russia.”

She added that the government has made a “significant offer” to Russia in order to resolve the “wrongful detentions”.

In early November, after a Russian court denied Griner’s appeal, her wife Cherelle gave an update that Griner was “100 per cent not okay” while being held in Russia.

At Glamour‘s Women of the Year Awards on 1 November, Cherelle said she had been “riding waves of grief” since the basketball star was arrested in February. 

“I can’t believe that I’m standing in front of you guys today and living without my favourite person, my greatest love, my sanctuary,” she said, adding that Griner is “100 per cent not okay”, and that there’s “little I can do to ease her pain”. 

Reading a letter she wrote to Griner, Cherelle said: “You are not forgotten. So, keep your head up champ. This too shall pass! I love you and I cannot wait for the day that I get to embrace you!”

Brittney Griner kisses her wife Cherelle Griner in the stands after a basketball game

Cherelle Griner wrote in a letter that she’s “missing everything” about Brittney Griner and wished her wife could “feel all the love that surrounds her”. (Getty Images)

Cherelle met with Biden in September to discuss the White House’s efforts to secure Griner’s release, stating that it was an “honour” to discuss Griner with him. 

In a statement, Biden said he “appreciated the opportunity to learn more about Brittney” and that every minute she is being held “is a minute too long”.

Referencing Paul Whelan, another American currently detained in Russia, the White House said: “We all admire the courage of the Whelan and Griner families in the face of these unimaginable circumstances, and we remain committed to reuniting them with their loved ones.”