The shouts for Russia to release Brittney Griner continue, but her circumstances are reportedly serious. Earlier this year, Griner was detained while traveling through a Russian airport. The WNBA star had less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage, and because it is against the law, Griner was promptly arrested. During her trial, she admitted it was an accident and was prescribed by a physician. However, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison.

The White House claims they have been in regular contact with Russian authorities in hopes of having Griner released. Yet, it was recently stated that Griner was moved to a penal colony where she will remain until her sentence ends. It is unclear where this hard labor prison is located, making her situation dire.

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Additionally, more information about this phantom prison is being shared thanks to musician Nadya Tolokonnikova. She is a member of the band Pussy Riot who made headlines after they were sent to the same penal colony on charges of “hooliganism.” In an interview with MSNBC, Tolokonnikova details her experience in the prison.

“I’m terrified that Brittney Griner was moved to IK-2,” she said. “It’s one of the harshest colonies — it is literally the harshest colony in the whole Russian prison system.”

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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“I was protesting terrible conditions in my penal colony [IK-14],” Tolokonnikova said. Where Griner is detained is not far from there. “But I know every single chief official who works at IK-2, and I know exactly what human rights abuses they perform on a daily basis and the kind of torture they use against prisoners.”

Further, she calls the prison’s conditions “slave-like” and says inmates work upwards of “17 hours a day.” There are said to be approximately 800 women there who labor without breaks or days off. They are made to sew, cook, and clean, among other assigned tasks. Tolokonnikova claims there isn’t any medical help.

“A lot of prisoners just cannot stand it and some of them decide to commit suicide,” said Tolokonnikova. “And, let’s say, you’re being tortured and go to prison doctors to document the fact that you’ve been tortured, obviously, they do not see anything and are not witnesses of your torture.”

(Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)
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“What I’m really scared of is Brittney hiding the fact that she is being heavily oppressed in this penal colony, because that’s what happened with me,” Tolokonnikova continued. “I was told that if I’m going to say to one single person about abuses, the whole penal colony is gonna suffer because of me. And I didn’t open my mouth for a year.”

Her advice to Griner is to take each day “minute to minute because you never know when you’re gonna get attacked.” However, Tolokonnikova says that prisoners with media attention are less likely to be tortured. “I wasn’t physically tortured. They used physical force against me, just to move me places, but they didn’t beat me. They didn’t rape me. Unfortunately, rape happens in IK-2 as well.”

Watch Nadya Tolokonnikova’s interview below.

[via]