Brittney Griner Speaks Out Following Release

Brittney Griner Speaks Out Following Release

Brittney Griner is home for the holidays and took to Instagram today to share her gratitude.

"It feels so good to be home! The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn," Griner said in an Instagram post. "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."

Griner was released last week in a prisoner swap after nearly 300 days in Russian custody. Following a routine medical evaluation at the Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Griner was returned to her home in Arizona.

Griner expressed her gratitude “to each person who advocated for [her]” while acknowledging fellow prisoner Paul Whelan, who was not included in the swap that brought her home. “President Biden, you brought me home,” Griner said, “and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too.”

Paul Whelan was detained in 2018 under accusations of spying, which the US maintains are baseless.

Griner promised to use her existing platform and newfound freedom to advocate for the release of prisoners left overseas.

“I will use my platform to do whatever I can to help you,” Griner wrote. “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 also announced her commitment to return to the WNBA for her team Phoenix Mercury. "I also want to make one thing very clear: I intend to play basketball for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury this season," Griner said, "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."

This marks the long-awaited conclusion of Griner’s detention in Russia, where customs officers discovered vape cartridges with hash oil in her luggage in February. Griner pled guilty to drug-smuggling and possession charges but stated she had no intention of breaking the law.

Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison in August and moved to a penal colony in the Mordovia republic in mid-November.

Due to increased tensions surrounding the Russia-Ukraine war and the country’s hostile treatment of LGBTQ citizens, Griner’s detention sparked an outcry from many human rights organizations and US citizens at home.

Accompanying the statement on Instagram, Griner shared photos of her exiting the plane from San Antonio and hugging her wife, Cherrele Griner, who shared a post earlier this week to “say thank you to some of the hands; seen and unseen, that helped make it possible for me to see [her] wife again!”

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/ Keetan Gale