Report: State Dept. Spokesperson Says Russia Has Not Been As Seriously Engaged In Brittney Griner Negotiations As Hoped, But Talks Are Ongoing
According to a statement by State Department spokesperson Ned Price, Russia failed to notify the White House of Brittney Griner‘s transfer to a Penal Colony. Griner’s lawyers, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said that the current whereabouts of their client were unknown after she was transferred on Friday. The location of where Griner is headed is also a myster. However, Griner’s attorneys expect to be updated on where she is when she arrives which could take days, weeks or even up to a month.
“Well, the fact is and what the president was alluding to, is the fact that the Russians up until now have not engaged with the seriousness of purpose in the constructive approach that we would have liked to have seen,” Price said regarding the U.S. attempts to negotiate Griner’s release. “We put forward this substantial proposal, as Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken announced a number of months ago now, for the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner.”
Griner is preparing to serve the remainder of a nine-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to narcotics possession and smuggling charges during her drug trial. She was initially detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after cannabis oil was found in her luggage. Griner attempted to appeal her conviction, but it was denied by a Moscow Regional Court. Paul Whelan is a U.S. Marine who has been detained in Russia for alleged espionage. The Biden Administration offered a prisoner swap that would involve the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for the release of both Griner and Whelan.
“The fact that Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner remain behind bars — Brittney Griner for some 10 months now, Paul Whelan for more than three years now — is a testament to the fact that this process has not moved as quickly as we would have liked,” Price continued. “You’ve heard us say that from our end. This process has not been static. We put forward this substantial proposal. We’ve had discussions with the Russians. Those discussions are continuing. We’re continuing to look for ways that we can secure as quickly as possible the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, so that they can be returned to their loved ones here in the United States.”
Penal colonies in Russia have historically attracted attention and concern from human rights activists internationally. The conditions are often described as “tough” and “grim.” At the colonies, inmates are often housed in barracks, not cells. They are usually put to work, according to reports, and some compare the colonies to labor camps.
The journey to get to the colony can sometimes be long and dangerous with some reports saying it could take up to one month to get there and transportation is often in a crowded train.
CNN reports that the colonies were built “during the Soviet Union and have been compared by think tanks and human rights organizations to Soviet-era gulags – tough prison camps that expanded across the region during Joseph Stalin’s rule in the mid-20th century.”
FOX News has more HERE.