On Saturday (Aug. 20), former NBA star Dennis Rodman revealed plans for an upcoming trip to Russia. NBC News reported his itinerary includes helping to obtain the freedom of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is currently behind bars in Russia on drug charges.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” Rodman told the outlet, speaking from a restaurant in Washington D.C. “I’m trying to go this week.” The report does not clarify what authority granted Rodman this permission.
President Joe Biden’s administration issued a statement clarifying that there are already plans in place for efforts to successfully bring the WNBA star home, and that outside factors could complicate the process.
“It’s public information that the administration has made a significant offer to the Russians and anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder release efforts,” expressed an official.
Russia has confirmed its willingness to release Griner in a potential prisoner swap for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout who is known as “The Merchant of Death.” The Biden administration has reportedly offered to release Bout for both Griner and Paul Whelan, another U.S. citizen in Russian custody.
Griner’s lawyers have filed an appeal after the athlete was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony. She was convicted on drug charges by a Russian court earlier this month. Her lawyer Maria Blagovolina and co-counsel Alexander Boykov claimed Griner’s sentencing was excessive.