NBA legend Dennis Rodman said Saturday that he will be traveling to Russia to seek the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in prison on drug charges.
The basketball Hall of Famer who was at a sneaker convention in Washington, D.C., over the weekend said that he is planning to visit Moscow later this week.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl. I’m trying to go this week,” he told the outlet, adding he knew Russian President Vladimir Putin “too well.”
On Sunday, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital that they were aware of reports that Rodman was going to travel to Russia. The spokesperson also mentioned their Level 4 travel advisory when it came to Americans traveling to Russia.
“Do not travel to Russia due to the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials, the singling out of U.S. citizens in Russia by Russian government security officials including for detention, the arbitrary enforcement of local law, limited flights into and out of Russia, the Embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19-related restrictions, and terrorism,” the warning reads. “U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Russia should depart Russia immediately. Exercise increased caution due to wrongful detentions.”
Last week, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the agency still classified Griner as being “wrongfully detained.” He was asked about Griner and the potential of a prisoner swap with Russia. This potential prisoner swap may involve convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout and another American held in Russia, Paul Whelan.
“No element of this trial changes our judgment that Brittney Griner is being wrongfully detained and should be released immediately,” Price said. “That is why we’ve put forward a number of weeks ago what we consider to be a serious, substantial proposal and an effort to seek her release, to seek the release of Paul Whelan as well.
“We are in communication with the Russians on this matter, and we encourage them to pursue this constructively.”
Griner’s lawyers in Russia appealed her conviction. She was arrested for bringing vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis through a Moscow airport in February. She was convicted and sentenced on Aug. 4.
Rodman has a history of talking to world leaders.
In 2013, Rodman met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. He was one of the first Americans to meet him. About 10 months later, Kenneth Bae was released from North Korea. Rodman had gone to North Korea a few times since then.
In 2014, Rodman described Putin as “cool” in an interview on FOX Business. He said he wasn’t talking about Putin’s politics. He said Putin shook his hand and left during his interaction with him in a trip to Russia.
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