Dennis Rodman planning Russia trip in bid to get US basketball star released

US

Dennis Rodman is planning a trip to Russia in a bid to secure the release of fellow basketball star Brittney Griner.

The former NBA player told NBC News he “got permission” to travel and hopes to fly out within days.

“I’m trying to go this week,” he said.

Rodman’s plan comes despite the US State Department strongly discouraging Americans from entering Russia, with relations between the two countries at a post-Cold War low following the invasion of Ukraine.

Zelenskyy warns of ‘vicious’ Russian attack – live updates

The US government has had no luck in its attempts to have Griner, an American citizen, released since she was arrested at a Moscow airport on 17 February.

Griner, who played for Russian side Yekaterinburg during the WNBA off-season, was detained after cannabis-infused vape cartridges were found in her luggage.

Cannabis oil is illegal in Russia, and Griner was convicted for drugs possession and trafficking.

She was sentenced to nine years behind bars after she pleaded guilty to the charges.

Read more: Who is Brittney Griner?

Griner was charged with illegal possession of cannabis
Image:
Griner was charged with illegal possession of cannabis

Joe Biden’s administration says Griner was “wrongfully detained”, but there has been little sign of negotiation with Moscow amid heightened tensions through most of the year.

The US has hit Russia with an array of sanctions since the Ukraine war began, with the Kremlin responding by banning senior White House officials – including the president – from entering the country.

It’s not known whether Rodman, 61, has tried to get a meeting with Vladimir Putin, who he described as “cool” following a visit to Moscow in 2014.

Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un
Image:
Rodman and Kim Jong Un watch basketball in Pyongyang

Rodman may hope his previous experience with reclusive leaders hostile to Washington will work in his favour, having already enjoyed the company of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

Ahead of a visit to Pyongyang in 2017, Rodman described the rogue state’s leader as “an awesome kid”.

“I think that he respects me as far as understanding my views,” he said.

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