Dennis Rodman‘s plans to travel to Russia in an effort to help secure the freedom of Brittney Griner hasn’t been met with much excitement from the U.S. government, which has expressed opposition at the retired NBA star’s latest foray into foreign diplomacy.
NBC News on Sunday reported Rodman’s stated intentions to help Griner, who is serving a nine-year prison sentence in Russia after being found guilty earlier this month for possession of hashish oil.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” Rodman told NBC News without mentioning Griner by name. “I’m trying to go this week.”
It was not immediately clear who allegedly gave Rodman “permission to go to Russia,” but it apparently did not come from the Biden administration, which has already issued a travel advisory against Americans going to the Eastern European country that is currently actively engaged in war with neighboring Ukraine.
Beyond that, an anonymous source NBC identified as a Biden administration official said Rodman’s efforts, no matter how well-intentioned, will probably not be of much help, if any at all, to the government’s ongoing negotiations to free Griner.
“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,” said the official.
Rodman, though, fancies himself as somewhat of an American ambassador to adversarial foreign countries. That includes his multiple visits to North Korea, where he forged an apparent kinship with leader Kim Jong Un, who has in no uncertain terms threatened to launch missiles toward the U.S. and other American allies like Japan and Seoul.
However, it’s debatable whether Rodman’s presence in North Korea ever actually moved the needle of diplomacy. Since 2013, Rodman has taken it upon himself to intervene in the geo-political fallout from fears of North Korea’s nuclear ability. That includes singing “happy birthday” at a basketball game in North Korea he arranged to Jong Un, a man who arranged for the murders of all of his executed uncle’s close relatives, including children. In 2014, Rodman said he “won’t go back” to North Korea only for him in 2018 to attend the historic Singapore summit to “offer whatever support is needed” to Jong Un and then-President Donald Trump, whose controversial candidacy was endorsed by the 5-time NBA champion.
Griner has been in Russian custody since February when she was arrested after the contraband was allegedly found in Griner’s luggage upon her arrival to the country, where she played professionally for years during the WNBA offseason.
So far, Russia hasn’t publicly entertained the prospect of releasing Griner, either for humanitarian reasons or because of the “significant offer” of a prisoner swap that the Biden administration official referenced in their statement.
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