Brittney Griner on Friday expressed her gratitude to members of the Biden administration who helped secure her release from Russia this month and pledged to aid President Biden’s efforts to bring home former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is still imprisoned in Russia.
“President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too,” Griner said in a post on Instagram, her longest public comments to date since she returned to the U.S. last week.
“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,” she added.
Griner thanked Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, other members of the Biden administration, her Russian legal team and others for their work in the months leading up to her release.
In the Instagram post, Griner wrote that she intends to play in the upcoming WNBA season for the Phoenix Mercury, “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.”
Griner was freed from Russian prison last week as part of a prisoner swap in which the U.S. gave up convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout.
Griner was detained in February for bringing vape cartridges with hashish oil into the country. She was sentenced in August to serve nine years in prison and had been recently transferred to a penal colony.
Biden was unable to secure the release of Whelan, who has been held in Russia since 2018 on spying charges that he vehemently denies. He has been sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Biden administration officials have said Russia is treating Whelan’s case differently because of the espionage charges and that they were unwilling to include him as part of the swap for Bout.
“While we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up,” Biden said in remarks last week announcing Griner’s release.