Nearly two weeks after WNBA star Brittney Griner was transferred to a remote penal colony, the Russian government has yet to formally notify the White House of her exact location, the State Department said Tuesday.
Principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel was asked this week about Griner’s exact whereabouts after her legal team confirmed that she had been moved out of a detention center just outside of Moscow on Nov. 4 to a remote penal colony to serve out her nine-year prison sentence on drug smuggling charges.
"We are aware of the reports of her location and in frequent contact with Ms. Griner’s legal team, but the Russian Federation has still failed to provide any official notification for such a move of a U.S. citizen, which we strongly protest and disagree with," Patel said during a press briefing.
"Our mission in our embassy in Russia has continued to press for more information about her transfer and her specific current location. Following this sham trial and the unjust sentencing, the Russian Federation is transferring her from a prison to a remote penal colony."
State Department spokesman Ned Price said last week that Russia has still "not engaged with the seriousness of purpose" regarding Griner’s release as it relates to the "substantial proposal" the White House put forth over the summer.
"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 said at the time.
According to Griner’s attorneys, she left a detention center outside of Moscow earlier this month, but her exact location is unknown. According to The Associated Press, transfers to penal colonies, usually in remote parts of Russia, can take days or even weeks with limited to no contact.