Does Dennis Rodman have the political pull to get Brittney Griner released from Russian prison?
According to the NBA legend, Dennis “got permission” to help her. NBC reports he spoke with the news outlet over the weekend and said he is going to Russia this week to help Brittney. While at a restaurant in D.C. he said,
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl. I’m trying to go this week.”
However, a Biden administrator doesn’t think that move is a good idea and could potentially “hurt” the situation. The official said, “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,” the article reports.
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.'”
In the latest update, a senior Russian diplomat said exchange talks are in motion. Alexander Darchiev, head of the Foreign Ministry’s North America department, said,
“This quite sensitive issue of the swap of convicted Russian and U.S. citizens is being discussed through the channels defined by our presidents. These individuals are, indeed, being discussed. The Russian side has long been seeking the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to professionals, proceeding from the ‘do not harm’ principle.'”
We’ll keep you updated when more details become available.