Brittney Griner, the WNBA player who was recently released from a Russian jail in a prisoner swap for an infamous Russian arms dealer, has spoken out for the first time since her return to the United States.

Brittney Griner arriving at San Antonio’s Kelly Field following her release from Russian prison

Back in February, Griner was arrested at a Russian airport for the possession of cannabis oil and has since been held in prison by the Russian Federation. In July, the basketball player pled guilty to the charges that had been placed against her. In August, she was convicted and sent to prison with a nine-year sentence.

On December 8, Griner was released from prison after the Biden administration agreed to swap Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for the basketball star. However, the White House has received criticisms for their swap, which left behind U.S. citizen and former Marine Paul Whelan. Whelan has been imprisoned on false charges in Russia since 2018 and is serving a 16-year-long sentence in a maximum security prison.

On Friday, Griner wrote a lengthy statement which she posted on Instagram. In her statement, she mentioned Whelan and said that the White House is “committed” to bringing him home.

Griner said, “It feels so good to be home! 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.”

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She then went on the thank the people who helped her get home and advocated for her, including her wife, Cherelle, her family, and her legal team.

Brittney Griner’s reunion with wife Cherelle Griner

Griner extended a special thanks to Joe Biden and his administration, saying, “President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too. 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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Finally, Griner confirmed that she will be returning to play in the WNBA on Phoenix Mercury this season.

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