In her first statement since her release, Griner pledges to help Biden seek freedom for Paul Whelan


Brittney Griner has been in a military base in San Antonio since her arrival to the United States after months of imprisonment in Russia.Credit…Eric Gay/Associated Press

Brittney Griner, the American basketball star, on Friday left the military base in San Antonio where she has spent the eight days since her release from imprisonment in Russia, saying on Instagram that planned to spend the holidays at home with her family. She also said she would play basketball for her team, the Phoenix Mercury, in the W.N.B.A.’s next season.

“The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn,” she said in her first public statement since her release from a Russian penal colony, where she was serving a nine-year sentence after pleading guilty to a minor drug charge. “I dug deep to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help.”

Her wife, Cherelle, said in a separate post of her own: “I’m so happy you’re home and safe babe.”

Ms. Griner left San Antonio from a private airport on Friday morning, according to her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas. She had been at Brooke Army Medical Center since returning to the United States on Dec. 8. Ms. Colas said Ms. Griner was going home but did not say whether that meant her residence in Phoenix. Hospital and State Department officials declined to comment.

Three members of the Phoenix Mercury organization met her at the airport in San Antonio: the Mercury star player Diana Taurasi; Jim Pitman, the general manager; and Vince Kozar, the team’s president. The next W.N.B.A. season begins May 19.

Ms. Griner thanked numerous people in her post, including the staff at the U.S. Army’s Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, where she arrived at the medical center one week ago. The Brooke Army Medical Center has long been a place the U.S. government has sent people who need to be debriefed or who require sensitive medical care after going through an ordeal like Ms. Griner’s. The hospital treats both civilians and military personnel who have survived torture or other trauma.

Ms. Griner also thanked her family and President Biden, and she pledged to help him seek the release of Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia on espionage charges that the United States has said is politically motivated.

“I also encourage everyone that played a part in bringing me home to continue their efforts to bring all Americans home,” she said. “Every family deserves to be whole.”

In a separate Instagram Story post, she shared information about how to write letters to Mr. Whelan.

Ms. Griner was detained at an airport near Moscow in February after customs officials said they found a small amount of cannabis oil in vape cartridges in her luggage. The State Department categorized her as wrongfully detained and sought a prisoner exchange for her release. Officials in Moscow had said that a prisoner exchange would not happen until after her trial concluded.

A Russian court convicted her of drug smuggling, and in August she was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony known for its harsh conditions. Her appeal was denied in October and she was sent to the IK2 female penal colony 300 miles southeast of Moscow.

She was released on Dec. 8 in a prisoner swap for Viktor Bout, an arms dealer who had been convicted in 2011 on charges including conspiring to kill Americans.