NBA legend Dennis Rodman plans to travel to Russia to seek the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug possession.
Rodman said he has secured permission to travel to the war-fueled country and hopes to book his trip soon to see Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he says knows “too well”.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help this girl,” Rodman told NBC News. “I’m trying to go this week.”
Rodman is known for befriending controversial world leaders and even noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “cool” after returning from an adventure in Moscow in 2014.
Besides Putin, the former NBA star considers North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a good friend. Rodman has made several trips to the communist country and even said he helped free in 2014 Christian missionary Kenneth Bae, who was charged in the country with trying to overthrow the government.
Dennis Rodman said he plans to travel to Russia to seek the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug possession on August 4.
Griner was arrested in February after she was caught carrying two vape cartridges containing cannabis oil through a Moscow airport. She was sentenced to nine years in prison on August 4
PICTURED: Two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA player Brittney Griner is escorted to hear the court’s verdict in Khimki City Court
Griner is currently locked up in prison in Russia for smuggling two vape cartridges containing cannabis oil into the country in February. Cannabis in Russia is illegal.
There was speculation that Griner would be freed in a prisoner swap for arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was arrested in the United States in 2010.
The WNBA star was sentenced to nine years behind bars on August 4 as the White House scrambles to swap him with Viktor Bout, who has been in prison in the United States since 2010.
Bout was a convicted Russian arms dealer who was serving a 25-year prison sentence for conspiring to sell tens of millions of dollars worth of weapons to Colombia’s former guerrilla army FARC.
At the time of its 2008 conviction, the group was classified by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization, although that designation was lifted last year.
Putin initially withheld the swap, citing the pending lawsuit, but is now ready to negotiate the swap for Bout.
The deal would bring Griner home, but also free one of the worst war criminals the United States has ever locked up.
It’s unclear how Rodman plans to negotiate Griner’s release, but he will travel to the country despite the State Department’s travel advisory urging people not to travel to Russia amid war with Ukraine persists.
Griner was arrested at Moscow airport in February when customs officials found a cannabis pen in her luggage. She has been incarcerated since
Rodman says he knows the Russian president “too well”. It is unclear how he will negotiate the exchange, but if successful, it will be the second time he has helped free American prisoners.
If Rodman is successful, this will be his second contribution to a prisoner exchange. In 2014, Rodman claimed he was behind the release of various US citizens detained in North Korea, including Bae.
The former basketball star wrote to his ‘lifetime friend’ Kim Jong-Un and asked for mercy in the case of Bae – who had been imprisoned in the hermit kingdom for six months.
Bae was released along with Matthew Miller, who was serving a one-year prison sentence for espionage, after he allegedly tore up his tourist visa at Pyongyang airport and requested asylum.
In a letter sent to the communist dictator earlier this year and shown to TMZ, Rodman wrote: ‘[I] would be eternally grateful for his safe return and take a big step forward in bridging the gap between our two nations.
He also compliments the leader’s progress, such as the construction of new water parks and airport terminals, in his “beautiful country” and thanks him for a special stay.
The note continues: “I understand the crimes he has committed and I ask my dear friend, the highly respected Marshall Kim Jong Un, for his release to show my country how loving and compassionate you and the DPRK can be. .”
Rodman told the site he sent the letter and Jan and believes his travels to the communist country influenced the developments.
He visited the country three times in 2013, but had previously said he was threatened with sanctions by Washington if he continued his activities in the country.
Photo: Rodman with Kim Jong Un. He visited North Korea three times in 2013, in February, March and December, but said he was threatened with sanctions by Washington if he continued his activities in the country.
Dennis Rodman has claimed he was behind the release of one of the US citizens who was released from detention in North Korea after contacting Kim Jong-Un.