Dennis Rodman says he's going to Russia to seek Brittney Griner's release
Former basketball player Dennis Rodman told NBC News on Saturday he's planning a visit to Russia to help secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who's been detained in the country since February.
The big picture: Rodman, who has a relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has a history of conducting informal diplomacy on the U.S.' behalf during multiple trips to North Korea.
- The former NBA player credited himself for helping get the release of American Kenneth Bae from North Korea because he wrote a 2014 letter to Kim, and he was with former President Trump during a 2018 meeting with the North Korean leader.
What he's saying: "I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl," Rodman told NBC News. "I'm trying to go this week."
- Rodman doesn't need U.S. permission to go to Russia, but the U.S. State Department has advised Americans from entering the country.
Rodman isn't as close with Russian President Vladimir Putin as he is with Kim, NBC News notes, but he called the leader "cool" after a 2014 trip to Moscow.
- "I know Putin too well," he told NBC News.
Background: Griner was found guilty on drug charges by a Russian court and sentenced to nine years in prison this month, months after Russian authorities said they found a vape cartridge with hashish oil in her luggage.
- U.S. officials have maintained Griner was wrongfully detained by Russia.