Phoenix Mercury player Brittney Griner, who was wrongfully detained in Russia for possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis, said Thursday that she would no longer play basketball abroad unless it was for the U.S.
“I can say for me, I’m never going overseas to play again unless I’m representing my country at the Olympics,” Griner said at her first press conference since she was released in a prisoner swap last December.
She also sent a message of support to other wrongfully detained Americans like WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.
The two-time Olympic Gold medalist had previously played on a Russian women’s basketball team during WNBA off-season. She said that while she understood the incentive for other basketball players to play abroad for increased pay, she would no longer do it herself.
She thanked the media for the coverage of her detainment, which she believed helped get her back to the U.S.
Griner and the Phoenix Mercury have tied up with the Bring Our Families Home campaign that urges the White House to act on bringing home wrongfully detained American hostages.
In a message to Gershkovich and Whelan, Griner said, “I would say to everyone that’s wrongfully detained: ‘Stay strong, keep fighting, don’t give up.’”
She said that her team was in touch with Gershkovich’s family to “share knowledge” about the detention process, adding that being in foreign territory can be daunting.
Griner is also set to write a book about her time in detention, which will be released next year.