Letters from supporters ensured Brittney Griner "never lost hope" during 10 months in Russian detention—and she hopes they'll do the same for Paul Whelan. "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," Griner wrote in a handwritten letter shared late Wednesday on her Instagram account, per ABC News. She thanked supporters who "took time to show me you cared," adding "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" and "showed me the power of collective hands."
Now "it's our turn to support" other families of those wrongfully detained, who "stood alongside you" and "supported the We Are BG campaign," continued the two-time Olympic gold medalist. She included a mailing address for Whelan specifically. President Biden had hoped to include the former Marine in the prisoner swap that freed Griner, though Russia reportedly had objections. Convicted on what the US calls "sham" espionage charges, he was sentenced to 16 years in a Russian prison in 2020, two years after his arrest. In her previous statement, Griner spoke directly to Whelan, promising to "use my platform to do whatever I can to help you," per the Hill. "Together, we can do hard things," she wrote in the letter. "I'm living proof of that." (Read more Brittney Griner stories.)