Basketball Star Brittney Griner Sent to Russian Penal Colony


Willow Burkholder, Staff Writer - The Mustang Messenger

After finding vape canisters containing less than 1 gram of cannabis oil, Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner was convicted on August 4th in Russia at a time where there were heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington over a high-stakes prisoner exchange. Although this may seem like an over-the-top punishment for such a small amount of the substance, she is serving nine years in a Russian prison after a court rejected an appeal of her sentence last month. 

On November 4th, Griner left a detention center outside of Moscow for a penal colony, which is a fairly common Russian prison where the people detained get paid very little for the work that they do while there. However, it gets worse, as access to Griner will be strained because of how remote these penal colonies are. The U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken made it clear to the Russian authorities that they are required to give the embassy regular access to Griner. 

What may be the most ironic yet sad parts about this case is that Griner was using cannabis to treat pain, not for any recreational or criminal activity. However, there is still a sliver of hope; many organizations have stated that there is an exchange offer between Griner and Paul Whelan, arrested for espionage, for Viktor Bout. Bout is a Russian arms dealer, who is also known as the “merchant of death”, and is serving a 25-year sentence in the US. 

This does bring hope, however, a lot of people have used this case as a way to prove how unfair this justice system can be. But it does help ease the worries of most people, as the problem is trying to be fixed.