Dennis Rodman wants to visit Russia to help free Brittney Griner ‘this week’

Collage with photos of Brittney Griner and Dennis Rodman, and a handpainted Russia flag

Former professional basketball player Dennis Rodman reportedly plans to go to Russia to “help” seek the release of Brittney Griner.

WNBA player Griner, 31, was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony on 4 August for drug possession and trafficking charges.

She was arrested at an airport near Moscow in February, after cannabis-infused vape cartridges were found in her luggage. Griner has said she accidentally packed the cartridges.

US president Joe Biden has dubbed her detainment “wrongful” and her sentence “unacceptable”.

Now former NBA player Dennis Rodman said he plans to visit Russia to “help that girl”, according to NBC News.

“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” he told the outlet in Washington DC.

“I’m trying to go this week”.

Dennis Rodman could ‘complicate and hinder’ Brittney Griner efforts

The US government, however, believes that Rodman’s offer to “help” Brittney Griner may harm her case.

A senior Biden administration official told NBC News: “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.”

US president Joe Biden said the US government will “work tirelessly” to bring Griner “home safely as soon as possible”.

He added that Griner’s sentence was “one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney”.

Rodman and Kenneth Bae

This is not the first time Rodman has become involved with an international human rights case. He was previously credited with helping secure the release of Kenneth Bae, an American imprisoned in North Korea after being accused of “subversive activities against the government”, in 2013.

Rodman attracted criticism at the time for appearing to suggest in an interview that Bae could have deserved his sentence of 15 years hard labour,  but Bae himself said the interview could have increased media attention and led to his release.

Bae, who was released in 2014, said: “I thank Dennis Rodman for being a catalyst for my release.

“Because [of] his rant, media attention to my plight was increased. If I meet him someday, I just want to say thank you for what he has done.”