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Griner attorneys: ‘Health’ primary concern amid transfer to penal colony

The attorneys and agent for detained WNBA star Brittney Griner said Wednesday that the star athlete’s health is their primary concern amid Griner’s transfer to a Russian penal colony and her continued detention in the country.

“Our primary concern continues to be BG’s health and well-being,” Griner’s agent, Lindsay Colas, said in a statement Wednesday. “While we work through this very difficult phase of not knowing exactly where BG is or how she is doing, we are asking for the public’s support to continue to write letters and express their love and care for her. ”

Colas also said her team will work closely with U.S. officials and former Nevada Gov. Bill Richardson (D) on the matter, saying they are “using all available resources to determine her whereabouts, ensure her safety and to bring home.”

“We are grateful for everyone’s support, and hope that as we approach nine months of detention, that BG and all Americans who have been wrongfully detained will be shown mercy and returned to their families for the holidays,” Colas said. added.

In a separate statement, Griner’s lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov confirmed that their client had been transferred from her detention center in Iksha to a penal colony, and said that in accordance with standard Russian procedure they would be notified by Russian authorities of her arrival at the prison by post within a two-week timeline.

It comes as a Russian regional court last month denied an appeal by Griner and her legal counsel to reduce or throw out her initial nine-year sentence for possession of marijuana oil at a Moscow airport.

The regional court did reduce Griner’s sentence to eight years by taking into account her time served in pre-trial detention.

Griner, who plays professionally for the WNBA’s Pheonix Mercury, has been detained in Russia since February and was arrested by authorities days after Russia began its war on neighboring Ukraine.

The Biden administration has made Griner’s case, along with that of another detained former U.S. Marine Paul Whalen, one of its top priorities, saying both individuals are being held in the country unlawfully.

“Our hearts go out to Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, as well as their family, friends and supporters, all of whom continue to suffer from Russia’s decision to unlawfully detain American citizens. We continue to work relentlessly to bring them home,” Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said in a statement. “I am focused on doing that, like so many others in the department. We will not relent until they are reunited with their loved ones.”

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