WNBA star Brittney Griner is back in the United States after being detained in Russia for 10 months on drug charges.
Griner was involved in a one-on-one prisoner swap for Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms dealer. Though she’s back home, she hasn’t forgotten about other American citizens serving prison sentences in Russia. Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, notably was not apart of the prisoner exchange. Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, told ESPN that her client will continue to work to raise attention to Whelan and others.
“[Griner] will work to raise attention for other Americans who are considered to be wrongfully detained in other countries, particularly Paul Whelan, the former U.S. marine who has been in a Russian prison for four years on espionage charges,” Colas said, via The Comeback.
While Whelan’s family applauded President Joe Biden for bringing Griner home, Whelan himself had a different response. Whelan spoke to CNN last Thursday via a phone call from the penal colony where he is being held.
“I am greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release, especially as the four-year anniversary of my arrest is coming up. I was arrested for a crime that never occurred,” Whelan said. “… Don’t understand why I’m still sitting here.”
Brittney Griner Gets in First Basketball Workout in 10 Months, Already Dunking
Among the first things Griner did upon returning was take part in her first basketball workout in 10 months. The 6-foot-9 center can still dunk, as seen in the video of her workout. Though the workout went great, a return to action has not yet been established.
“There’s no timeline on her return at this point. She’s reintegrating into a world that has changed for her now,” Colas said. “From a pure security standpoint she’s not going to be able to move in the world the way she did. It’s not a fate that she asked for, but I think she’s going to try to utilize her fame for good.”