Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner experienced the power of advocacy firsthand while detained in Russia. Now that she's back in the United States, Griner is urging fans to continue pushing for the release of Paul Whelan and other wrongfully detained Americans.
On Wednesday, Griner posted a handwritten letter on Instagram thanking fans for their support during her detainment. Griner also urged fans to write to Whelan and continue to fight for the release of other Americans.
Her full note read:
"Thanks to the efforts of many, including you, I am home after ten months. You took the time to show me you cared, and I want to personally take the time to write to you and say that your effort mattered. Your letters helped me not to lose hope during a time when I was full of regret and vulnerable in ways I could have never imagined. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Because of you, I never lost hope.
"Your letters were also bigger than uplifting me. They showed me the power of collective hands. Together, we can do hard things. I'm proof of that. My family is whole, and now, thanks to you, we are fortunate to spend the holidays together. However, there remain too many families with loved ones wrongfully detained.
"Those families stood alongside you and all who supported the WeAreBG campaign to bring me home, and it's our turn to support them. I hope you'll join me in writing to Paul Whelan and continue advocating for other Americans to be rescued and returned to their families.
"Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. I hope your holiday season is full of joy and love.
"Sincerely, Brittney Griner."
The letter contains an address so Griner's fans can send mail to Whelan.
The United States attempted to include Whelan, a retired marine currently detained in Russia on espionage charges, in offers to release Griner. In July, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the United States sent offers to Russia that involved both Griner and Whelan.