Former NBA player Dennis Rodman said he plans to go to Russia to advocate for the release of imprisoned WNBA player Brittney Griner.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” Rodman told NBC News on Saturday. “I’m trying to go this week.”
The Basketball Hall of Famer called Russian President Vladimir Putin “cool” after a 2014 trip to Moscow. He has also visited North Korea on several occasions, including for leader Kim Jong Un’s birthday. Rodman has also credited himself with helping to secure the release of American Kenneth Bae from North Korea.
“I know Putin too well,” Rodman told NBC News about his relationship with the Russian president, according to NBC.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States has imposed sanctions on the country and is assisting Ukrainian forces. Griner’s detention has added to tensions between the two countries but has also created a potential avenue for diplomacy.
Griner was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison earlier this month after being found guilty of possession of cannabis oil and smuggling.
The Biden administration has put forth a proposal to negotiate her release, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The U.S. offer to Russia includes a prisoner swap of Griner and another American, Anthony Whelan, for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
The State Department has a travel advisory discouraging Americans from visiting Russia.