Brittney Griner made a surprise appearance at Rev. Al Sharpton’s yearly National Action Network convention in New York City on Thursday – her first public sighting in the Big Apple since being released from a Russian prison.

Griner thanked Sharpton for his role that he played in helping to broker her release from Russia – after being held for ten months over possession of cannabis oil.

This appearance comes after Griner recently revealed she would publish a memoir detailing her time in prison. 

‘It means everything to be here today,’ Griner said in brief remarks after being introduced by Sharpton at his National Action Network convention at the Sheraton Hotel near Times Square. 

‘Everyone in this room that came together, sent out every prayer, it reached me while I was there, and I just want to thank every single one of you here.’

Brittney Griner made her first public appearance in New York City at a conference Thursday

Brittney Griner made her first public appearance in New York City at a conference Thursday

She appeared at the conference to thank the Rev. Al Sharpton for his role in getting her freed

She appeared at the conference to thank the Rev. Al Sharpton for his role in getting her freed

Griner was arrested last year at a Moscow airport after security found cannabis oil in her bag

Griner was arrested last year at a Moscow airport after security found cannabis oil in her bag

Evan Gershkovich

Paul Whelan

Griner hopes her memoir will help imprisoned Evan Gershkovich (left) and Paul Whelan (right)

Griner is currently preparing for her upcoming WNBA season with the Phoenix Mercury – her eleventh season in the league. 

The former champion and eight-time All-Star said that she will also be dedicating her time to advocating on behalf of American citizens who have been imprisoned overseas

‘I want to continue to fight to bring home every American detained overseas,’ she said. ‘We have to reunite all those families that are going through this really strange time, challenging time.’

The appearance comes after Griner announced she will be planning to publish a memoir about her trials and tribulations in Russia.  

She hopes her book will help other Americans detained overseas, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, arrested in Russia last month and accused of espionage; businessman Kai Li, serving a 10-year sentence in China on charges of revealing state secrets to the FBI; and Paul Whelan, a corporate security executive imprisoned in Russia on spying charges.

‘By writing this book, I also hope to raise awareness surrounding other Americans wrongfully detained abroad such as Paul Whelan, Evan Gershkovich, Emad Shargi, Airan Berry, Shahab Dalili, Luke Denman, Eyvin Hernandez, Majd Kamalmaz, Jerrel Kenemore, Kai Li, Siamak Namazi, Austin Tice, Mark Swidan and Morad Tahbaz,’ she said in a press release.

Griner’s release from prison was the result of a prisoner swap conducted by the Biden Administration that led to the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

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