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Brittney Griner commented publicly Friday for the first time since returning to America in last week’s prisoner exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
In a lengthy Instagram post, Griner thanked her wife, friends, family and President Joe Biden for bringing her home, vowed to help bring former Marine Paul Whelan home, and said she intends to play in the WNBA this season for the Phoenix Mercury.
“It feels so good to be home!” reads Griner’s caption, which accompanies a picture of her exiting the plane during last week’s prisoner exchange. “The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn. I dug deep to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help.”
Brittney Griner says she plans to play for Phoenix Mercury this season
Griner was released from Russian custody last week after being sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted in a show trial for possessing hash oil.
Griner had been detained for nearly a year already, and was recently moved to remote Labor Camp before the Biden Administration cut a deal to bring Griner back to America in exchange for ‘The Merchant of Death.’
The one-for-one swap drew the ire of Americans across the country, mainly because it didn’t include former US Marine Paul Whelan, who was accused of spying in 2018 and has been detained ever since.
Biden promised to “continue negotiating in good faith for Paul’s release” in a statement shortly after the news broke last week, and Griner said Friday she would “use my platform to do whatever I can to help.”
“I also encourage everyone that played a part in bringing me home to continue their efforts to bring all Americans home. Every family deserves to be whole,” she added.
Griner, 32, wrapped up the Instagram post – her first in 44 weeks – by teasing a return to the court this season.
“I also want to make one thing very clear: I intend to play basketball for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury this season, and in doing so, I look forward to being able to say ‘thank you’ to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon.”