October 2, 2022

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Dennis Rodman to go to Russia to try to free Brittney Griner: I know Putin too well

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has said he plans to go to Russia “this week” in an attempt to free American basketball player Brittney Griner from prison.

Dennis Rodman (left photo) told NBC News that he was given permission to go to Russia because he wanted to “help that girl”. He stated his intention to leave for Russia within the next seven days, according to Newsweek.com.

Brittney Griner (right photo) was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison in early August after being found guilty of drug smuggling with criminal intent by a Russian court. She was initially detained in Russia in February after vaporizer cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her possession. She appealed.

Rodman, who has traveled specifically to North Korea in the past, said: “I’ve never been to North Korea. I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl. I’m trying to go this week.”

Washington, skeptical of help from Rodman

A senior Biden administration official told NBC News that Rodman’s actions are likely to hurt Griner’s cause rather than help it. “It is public knowledge that the administration has made a significant offer to the Russians, and anything short of further negotiations through the established channel is likely to complicate and impede release efforts“, the official said.

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The former NBA star has made headlines with informal diplomatic activities in the past. Between 2013 and 2017, Rodman made several visits to North Korea, where he reportedly befriended leader Kim Jong Un.

Dennis Rodman: “I know Putin too well”

In 2013, Rodman publicly asked his friend “Kim” to release American prisoner Kenneth Bae. Bae had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea for “hostile acts against the republic”. He was released in November 2014. Bae later thanked Rodman and told CNN that he was a “catalyst” for his early release.

I know Putin too wellRodman, 61, said, according to NBC News. Rodman called President Vladimir Putin “cool” after a trip to Russia in 2014.

US citizens have been advised by the State Department not to travel to Russia at this time.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in July that the US had made a “proposal” to try to secure the release of Griner and fellow countryman Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage. Several reports said a swap could involve Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year sentence in the US.

Rodman, one of the legends of the NBA

Rodman was a prominent player in the NBA during his playing career when he was known for his actions both on and off the court. The five-time NBA champion was part of the legendary Chicago Bulls team in the 90s, alongside Michael Jordan. In the same decade he dated Madonna, married Carmen Electra and pretended to be getting married himself when he wore a wedding dress to his book launch. Much of his behavior was featured in the popular Netflix documentary The Last Dance.

The WNBA announced in May that Griner would continue to receive her salary during her detention in Russia.

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