Dennis Rodman announced he was going to Russia to get Brittney Griner released, but now he’s backing out. ABC reports he said on Monday (August 22), that he doesn’t currently have plans to travel to Russia.
We covered the report, initially, the NBA legend said he “got permission” to help Brittney. He spoke with NBC earlier in the week and said he planned on leaving for Russia “this week.”
In the latest update, Yahoo reports after his plans of trying to go to Russia made news headlines; the U.S. State Department announced his trip wouldn’t be on behalf of the United States. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told ABC News,
“We believe that anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder those release efforts. We’ve also provided very clear guidance to American citizens — owing to a number of threats, not the least of which is the threat of wrongful detention — that Americans should not travel to Russia. That has been our message to private Americans across the board.”
Dennis met Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014 and said he was “cool,” but the extent of their relationship isn’t known. Dennis isn’t a stranger to foreign affairs; he credits himself with helping to secure the release of an American, Kenneth Bae, from North Korea. He also reportedly maintained a business relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the past decade.
Since February 17, WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney has been detained in Russia. Russian authorities claimed they found vape cartridges while searching her luggage at a Moscow airport. Brittney admitted she mistakenly packed the canisters in her luggage. Her defense argued she was prescribed cannabis for pain. On August 4, she was found guilty of drug charges and sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison.
On August 15, Brittney’s defense team filed an appeal, arguing that her sentence was excessive. The U.S. government deemed Brittney “wrongfully detained” and offered a prison swap in exchange for her release. NPR reports, “Washington has offered to free Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. and once earned the nickname the ‘Merchant of Death.'”
Earlier this month, a senior Russian diplomat said exchange talks were in motion. Hopefully, Brittney returns soon! We’ll keep you updated.