According to reports, former NBA star Dennis Rodman will fly to Russia to secure the release of WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was recently sentenced to nine years in prison for possessing cannabis oil cartridges.
Rodman, who has previously intervened in US-North Korea negotiations, told NBC News on Saturday that he has been granted permission to fly to Russia and is "trying to go this week."
The U.S. State Department has advised Americans not to travel to Russia and to leave immediately if they are already there.
Regarding Rodman's plans, The Hill has contacted the State Department for comment.
The Biden administration is reportedly proposing a trade involving Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to secure the release of Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.
Rodman, a hall of famer who played for multiple NBA teams, notably alongside Michael Jordan on the Chicago Bulls, had previously visited Russia and once described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a "cool guy."
In 2014, Rodman claimed credit for the release of Kenneth Bae from North Korea, a country he visited numerous times despite heightened U.S. tensions. Rodman once described Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, as a "friend."
The former NBA star told NBC News on Saturday that he "knows Putin well" and is confident in his ability to deal with the Russian leader.
Griner was arrested by Russia in February, as tensions between the Russian government and the United States increased due to the impending invasion of Ukraine. The United States has declared Griner's detention unlawful.
The WNBA player pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis oil cartridges but claimed she packed them by accident and had no illegal intent.
Griner has appealed the nine-year sentence imposed last month by a judge.