NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman says he will travel to Russia this week to negotiate Brittney Griner’s release from prison, according to NBC News.
While at a local restaurant in Washington D.C. on Sunday, Rodman told the outlet that he received clearance from the U.S. to visit the European country.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” Rodman said. “I’m trying to go this week.”
Griner was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison on Aug. 4 for drug possession. She was allegedly carrying cannabis in vape containers while at a Moscow airport in February. Her lawyers filed an appeal on Aug. 15, but the details of the appeal remain unclear.
Rodman has assumed the role of an unofficial diplomatic ally on behalf of the U.S. in recent years. Rodman and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un became friends after the controversial figure held a basketball exhibition in Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2013. Since then, Rodman has traveled back and forth, attempting to ease tensions between North Korea and the U.S., specifically with the release of Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae.
Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor by a North Korean court in 2013 for allegedly conspiring to overtake the country’s government. He was freed after Rodman sparked conversation with Kim against Bae’s detainment.
“I’m calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him “Kim,” to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose,” Rodman said on Twitter in 2013.
Rodman then retracted his statements, saying he wouldn’t ask Kim for his release, according to Buzzfeed News.
Bae thanked Rodman in an interview with CNN in 2014 after Rodman went on a drunken rant about his involvement with him in an interview with former CNN host Chris Cuomo.
Later that year, Rodman told Fox Business that Russian president Vladimir Putin was a “cool guy” after a visit to Moscow on a basketball trip.
Rodman has had numerous run-ins with the law over the years, including him being charged with simple battery after slapping a man at a bar in 2019.
There is currently discussion of a prisoner swap that would bring Griner and former U.S. marine Paul Whelan back to the U.S., according the Associated Press.
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