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Brittney Griner urges supporters to write letters to Paul Whelan in prison

Two weeks after Brittney Griner’s launch from Russia, the place she had been detained on drug prices for the higher a part of a year, the U.S. basketball star referred to as on her supporters to redirect their advocacy to deal with Paul Whelan.

Whelan — a former U.S. Marine who traveled to Moscow in December 2018 to attend a marriage — has been imprisoned in Russia since his arrest throughout that journey on espionage prices, which federal officers referred to as false, and which each Whelan and his authorized protection workforce mentioned got here in an effort to body him. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison following his conviction in Russia two summers later.

In a written letter shared to Instagram on Wednesday, Griner requested followers, and people concerned in the WeAreBG Campaign that pushed for her launch from Russian custody, to write letters to Whelan and “advocate for other Americans to be rescued and returned to their families.”

“Thanks to the efforts to many, including you, I am home after nearly 10 months,” she wrote. “You took 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 to not lose hope during a time where I was full of regret and vulnerable in ways I could have never imagined.”

The athlete mentioned it was due to the general public’s ongoing help that she “never lost hope” whereas imprisoned.

“Your letters were also bigger than uplifting me. They showed me the power of collective hands. Together, we can do hard things. I’m living proof of that,” Griner continued, including, “My family’s whole and now, thanks to you, we are fortunate to get to spend the holidays together.” 

“However, there remain too many families with loved ones wrongfully detained,” she mentioned. “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 continuing to advocate for other Americans to be rescued and returned to their families.”

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President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with the households of Brittney Griner, left, and Paul Whelan on the White House on September 16, marking his first time personally meeting with them since their family members had been detained in Russia.

Griner was sentenced to 9 years after her arrest at a Moscow-area airport this previous February, when authorities took her into custody for possession of vape cartridges containing hashish oil. They are unlawful in Russia and had been discovered in the WNBA participant’s journey bag. Griner’s eventual launch in December was the results of a prisoner swap whereby the U.S. launched the infamous worldwide arms vendor Viktor Bout again to Russia in change for her freedom.

In an announcement given on the day of Griner’s return house, President Joe Biden vowed to proceed negotiations geared toward securing the discharge of Whelan, who additionally remained in prison as Trevor Reed, one other Marine Corps veteran beforehand detained in Russia, was free of Russian custody in change for Konstantin Yaroshenko final April.

“We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan,” mentioned Biden in remarks confirming and reacting to Griner’s launch on Dec. 8. He went on to say that the U.S. “will never give up” making an attempt to negotiate for Whelan’s freedom. 

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