AceShowbiz - Dennis Rodman is taking matters into his own hands amid public's cry for Brittney Griner's release from Russian jail. The former basketball ace has revealed his plans to visit the country to help free the WNBA star.
"I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl," Rodman told NBC News at a restaurant in D.C. on Saturday, August 20. "I'm trying to go this week." Seemingly confident that his connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin will bring positive result, he added, "I know Putin too well."
However, contrary to Rodman's claim that he got "permission" to help in Griner's case, a senior Biden administration official said that anything the former NBA star plans to do is more likely to hurt than help. "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," the official said as quoted by the news outlet.
It's unclear when exactly Rodman will go to Russia and what he's going to do to help free Griner once he is there. Should he go through with his plans, it won't be the first time he has conducted informal diplomacy with an international leader who has strained relations with the U.S.
Rodman has visited North Korea multiple times and called leader Kim Jong-un a friend and "very good guy." He helped secure the release of American prisoner Kenneth Bae in 2014. He also met with Kim and former U.S. President Donald Trump during a 2018 visit to Singapore.
Griner was arrested in Russia on February 17 after the Federal Security Service found she was carrying vaporizer cartridges containing hash oil, an illegal substance in the country. Despite her plea to President Biden to help her get out of Russian jail, she was sentenced to nine years in prison and fined 1 million rubles ($16,600).
Biden called the sentence "unacceptable," adding, "I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates." He went on assuring, "My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney home safely as soon as possible."