Phoenix Suns’ center, Brittney Griner, has been on the news for so long, making her one of the top searched people in the US over the past couple of months. Recently, she was released from a Russian prison in exchange for notorious arms smuggler Viktor Bout.
With her release, US President Joe Biden was both praised and criticized for taking so long to do something about the situation, and many netizens think the trade goes in Russia’s favor.
- Donald Trump questions Brittney Griner’s release through prisoner swap claiming her “a basketball player who openly hates our country”
Critics’ view into the condition of prisoner swap
Throughout history, many Americans got caught and sent off to prison in Russia. Most of them were wrongly incarcerated as there was no space for advocacy on their behalf. Among them, Paul Whelan, an American marine sentenced to 14 years in Russia, was supposed to be included in the swap alongside Griner.
Former DEA agent Tom Pasquarello, who operated the sting that resulted in the capture of Viktor, said, “We couldn’t even get two people for the world’s most notorious weapons trafficker.”
Griner realized the true taste of freedom after returning home and vowed to devote her life to bringing more Americans from overseas prisons home. On Wednesday, she shared a handwritten letter on Instagram, expressing her heartfelt gratitude and urging people to continue to support people like Whelan.
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She also mentioned a mailing address for fans to send their support and well wishes to Whelan.
The open letter
Her full letter contains the following:
“Thanks to the efforts of many, including you, I am home after 10 months. 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 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 get 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 continuing to advocate 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.”
Paul Whelan: A forlorn soldier
Paul Whelan is a former US Marine who was apprehended in Moscow by the Russian Security Service (FSB), taken to court, and sentenced to 14 years in prison for espionage. Despite a strong argument presented by his attorney, the court didn’t move from the decision. Since then, his family has been waiting eagerly for any real action from the US government to bring him home.