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Brittney Griner says she will advocate for other Americans detained abroad

2022-12-16T16:53:25Z

U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, who on Friday left an Army medical center where she had been recuperating following her release from a Russian penal colony as part of a prisoner swap, said she would work to help bring other detained Americans home and planned to resume her WNBA career.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-times Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) All-Star, left the Brooke Army Medical Center a week after she arrived at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, CNN reported.

“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,” she said in her first public statement since returning to the United States.

“President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too,” she said, referring to the former U.S. Marine still being held in Russia. “I will use my platform to do whatever I can to help you.”

Griner arrived at the medical center last Friday after U.S. officials secured her freedom from Russia in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner, 32, was arrested on Feb. 17 at an airport outside Moscow for carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.

She was subsequently convicted of drug smuggling and later transferred to one of Russia’s most notorious penal colonies, where former inmates have described torture, harsh beatings and slave labor conditions.

Griner said she plans to return to her WNBA team.

“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,” she said.

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U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, is escorted before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia July 27, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/File Photo

U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, stands inside a defendants’ cage before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina