Former NBA great Dennis Rodman on March 10, 2019 in Century City, California.
Michael Tullberg | beautiful pictures
WASHINGTON – Former NBA player Dennis Rodman said on Saturday that he plans to visit Russia to seek the release of convicted WNBA star Brittney Griner. nine years was in prison for drug offenses earlier this month.
Rodman told NBC News at a restaurant in DC: “I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl.” I’m trying to go this week. “
If Rodman goes to Russia, it will not be the first time he has engaged in informal diplomacy with an international leader who has strained relations with the United States.
Rodman has cultivated a relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the past decade, making numerous visits to the hermit kingdom. He called Russian President Vladimir Putin “cool” after his 2014 trip to Moscow. In 2018, he appeared on the sidelines of former President Donald Trump’s meeting with Kim in Singapore. And he has credit yourself with helping secure the release of American Kenneth Bae from Korea.
The US has imposed tough sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine and is supporting Ukrainian forces. Griner’s imprisonment has created another source of tension between the two countries – and a potential avenue for diplomacy.
Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations who has been involved in hostage negotiations in the past, told the Associated Press This month, he’s optimistic about the chance the prisoner swap will bring Griner and another American, Paul Whelan, back to America.
Rodman did not need special US permission to enter Russia – just a visa from Moscow – but the State Department issued travel warning that discourages US citizens from visiting the country.
“Do not travel to Russia,” the State Department advised, citing a variety of reasons, including “unprovoked and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine, potential “harassment” of citizens America of Russian government security officials” and the possibility of “wrong detention”. “
NBC News has reached out to White House national security officials for comment on Rodman’s plans to travel to Russia to participate in the Griner case. Rodman was in Washington for a sneakers convention.
Despite having a much closer relationship with Kim, Rodman expressed confidence in his understanding of the Russian President.
“I know Putin too well,” he said.