How is Dennis Rodman going to help Brittney Griner get out of prison in Russia?
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman told NBC he has permission to travel to Russia to seek the release of jailed WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Brittney Griner remains incarcerated in a Russian jail after being sentenced for drugs offenses and the WNBA star, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury and had travelled to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the WBHNA off-season, as yet has heard nothing further after her lawyers appealed her nine-year sentence and the US government proposed a prisoner exchange to secure her release.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist who had played for a Russian club, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on 17 February after cannabis-infused vape cartridges were found in her luggage.
She pleaded guilty to the charges but said she had not meant to break the law. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling, that it doesn’t end my life here,” Griner told the court at Khimki, near Moscow, at her sentencing.
Now, a new figure has aligned himself to the Griner case after US President Joe Biden called the sentence handed down “unacceptable.” In an interview with Jonathan Allen of NBC News, former NBA star Dennis Rodman stated that he has permission to travel to Russia to help in the Griner process.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl, I’m trying to go this week”, the three-time NBA champion said. “I know [Vladimir] Putin too well.”
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has proposed releasing arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner and ex-US Marine Paul Whelan, but there has been no response yet from the Russian government, which has asked that any negotiations over a prisoner exchange are carried out behind closed doors.
Rodman’s diplomatic background
The former Pistons, Spurs, Bulls, Lakers and Mavericks player has a history of links with governments opposed to US interests, such as North Korea.
In 2014, Rodman claimed in an interview with TMZ that he had been involved in the release of Kenneth Bae, a US citizen who had been imprisoned in North Korea for over three years, after sending a letter to leader Kim Jong Un. The former NBA star has made several visits to North Korea over the past decade and has met Kim various times.
In June 2018, Rodman also appeared on the sidelines when former US President Donald Trump held a summit with Kim in Singapore.