Brittney Griner thanks Biden and supporters in first remarks after release from Russia

US basketball player says she will play in 2023 WNBA season while pushing for Paul Whelan's release

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Basketball star Brittney Griner on Friday thanked US President Joe Biden and supporters in her first public remarks after being released from prison in Russia.

“It feels so good to be home!” she wrote in an Instagram post after she was released from medical observation in Texas, which she entered following a prisoner exchange in the UAE.

“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.”

Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison in August after Russian authorities found cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage at a Moscow airport.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist's sentence came amid rising political tension between Moscow and Washington, as President Vladmir Putin led a military offensive against Ukraine.

She was released as part of a prisoner exchange, in which the US released convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who at the time had been serving a 25-year prison sentence.

“Of course, a special thank you to President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary Blinken and the entire Biden-Harris Administration,” Griner wrote.

She said she would be working to help bring other detained Americans home, including Paul Wheelan, also detained in Russia.

“President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too,” Griner added.

“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.”

In her post, she also thanked her wife and her family as well as her Phoenix Mercury team and the WNBA.

Griner confirmed that she would be playing in the 2023 basketball season.

Updated: December 16, 2022, 6:37 PM