Brittney Griner leaves the courtroom after the court’s verdict in Khimki outside Moscow. (Getty)
WNBA player Brittney Griner is reportedly struggling to cope in a Russian prison where she has been detained for nearly nine months.
The basketball player’s attorneys told The New York Times that conditions in the Russian penal colony where she is kept are allegedly borderline inhumane.
Griner was detained by Russian authorities on 17 February after border checkpoint security accused her of smuggling vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage.
She pleaded guilty during a Khimki Court hearing on 7 July, where she said that “there was no intent” and that she “didn’t want to break the law.” The court sentenced her to nine years in jail.
Since then, the athlete has been detained in a small cell with two cellmates and a cramped bed, occasionally being able to walk for an hour in a small courtyard.
Lawyer Alexandr Boykov said that she hasn’t been in a “good condition” over the past few weeks, and reportedly “suffers a lot without her family.”
She is also reportedly worried that she has little chance of getting out and that the swap deal designed to release her may not come to fruition, according to Boykov.
“She is not yet absolutely convinced that America will be able to take her home,” he said. “She is very worried about what the price of that will be, and she is afraid that she will have to serve the whole sentence here in Russia.”
The Biden administration offered to exchange Griner with Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout as part of a plea to release her in July.
But so far, the deal doesn’t seem to have moved forward. Despite this, Biden met with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, on 19 September to discuss the possible terms of her release.
Cherelle was able to speak to her wife over the phone twice since February, saying that her last phone call was especially disturbing.
“It was the most disturbing phone call I’d ever experienced,” she said to CBS Mornings. “She’s very afraid about being left and forgotten in Russia, or just completely used to the point of her detriment.
“I think I cried for two, three days straight,” she continued.
Biden refuses to meet with Putin until Brittney Griner is released
President Biden has “no intention” of meeting with Vladimir Putin until Griner is released, according to a CNN interview.
The US president said to CNN journalist Jake Tapper that he would only meet with Putin if “he came to me at the G-20 and said, ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner.’”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre added in a briefing that Russia “needs to take the serious offer” of exchanging Viktor Bout, or else make a “serious counter-offer” to help push the negotiations forward.
Additionally, a former US Marine who has been detained in Russia on espionage charges since 2018 would be released alongside Griner.
Read the full article here