U.S. Dept. of State
(NEW YORK) — Brittney Griner thanked her family and friends and credited her faith for surviving her time in custody on Friday in her first comments since being released from a Russian prison earlier this month.
“It feels so good to be home! The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn,” Griner wrote on Instagram. “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.”
The U.S. swapped the WNBA star for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout on Dec. 8.
Griner was taken into custody at a Moscow area airport in February in possession of vaping cartridges containing hashish oil, an illegal substance in Russia. She pleaded guilty in July and was sentenced to nine years in prison on Aug. 7. She appealed the sentence, but was quickly rejected in October.
The U.S. had been negotiating a prisoner swap for months. President Joe Biden finally announced on Dec. 8 that he had spoken to Griner from a plane as she flew back to the United States and shared photos of himself with Griner’s wife, Cherelle, and Vice President Kamala Harris in the Oval Office.
Griner also specifically thanked Biden and urged the U.S. to continue to fight to bring imprisoned ex-Marine Paul Whelan home from Russia.
“President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too,” she wrote. “I will use my platform to do whatever I can to help you. 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.”
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