Basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman claims he has “permission to go to Russia” to advocate for the release of WNBA player Brittney Griner.
NBA legend Dennis Rodman is getting himself involved with the sentencing of WNBA player Brittney Griner. On Sunday (August 21), 61-year-old Rodman told NBC News that he plans to visit Russia to seek the release of Griner.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” Rodman said. “I’m trying to go this week.”
The announcement comes less than one month after Griner was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison after being arrested for carrying vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage Sheremetyevo International Airport in February. Although Rodman may consider his involvement a good deed, a senior official in the Biden administration says otherwise.
“It’s public information that the administration has made a significant offer to the Russians and anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder release efforts,” said the official.
The State Department currently has a travel advisory that urges American citizens to avoid visiting Russia.
“Do not travel to Russia,” the State Department advises, including factors such as “the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine,” the possibility of “harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials,” and “the singling out of U.S. citizens in Russia by Russian government security officials.”
Rodman’s political ties run deep in the years following his 2000 retirement. The former Chicago Bulls player has made numerous trips to North Korea, where he’s befriended Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. Rodman also contributed to the release of Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American Evangelical leader sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for attempting to overthrow the North Korean government. Despite Rodman’s previous views of Bae, he credited “The Worm” for being a “catalyst” for his release.
Last Monday (August 15) the legal team for Griner appealed the basketball player’s nine-year sentencing for drug possession, citing talks between the U.S. and Russia about a potential prisoner swap.