For narcotics possession, Griner was given a nine-year prison term in Russia earlier this month. Her attorneys have submitted an appeal, and it is believed that separate negotiations over a potential prisoner swap are ongoing. But Rodman just revealed to NBC that he intends to travel alone to try to secure the Olympian’s release.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” Rodman told NBC News. “I’m trying to go this week.” He did not specify who had given him permission to travel to Russia. However, A senior Biden administration official claimed that he was more likely to cause harm than good.
“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 official said. If Rodman travels to Russia, it won’t be the first time he has engaged in covert diplomacy with a world leader whose relations with the United States have been strained.
Rodman, who celebrated five NBA championships with Michael Jordan in the 1990s while cultivating a reputation as the league’s party animal bad boy, has gained notoriety in recent years for his associations with political personalities who have poor relations with the United States.
In 2014, he accepted Vladimir Putin’s invitation to a meeting in Moscow, afterwards referring to Putin as “cool as f—.” Additionally, he has discussed his friendship with Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of North Korea, in numerous interviews. In 2018, he attended the Singapore meetings between Kim and then-President Donald Trump.
In a Russian court earlier this month, Griner was given a nine-year prison term after pleading guilty to charges of cocaine possession and smuggling. In addition to playing for the Russian basketball team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason, Griner, a player for the Phoenix Mercury, was detained in February after she was discovered in possession of vaporizer cartridges containing hashish oil at an airport.
While American and Russian authorities are negotiating a prisoner exchange for Griner and Paul Whelan, an American who was detained in Russia in 2018 and given a 16-year jail sentence, Griner’s attorneys have appealed her sentence.