Former NBA player Dennis Rodman claimed he had the okay to travel to Russia in order to help release Brittney Griner. After a statement from the White House, Rodman has reversed course.
According to ABC News, Ned Price, a State Department spokesperson, said about Rodman’s potential trip, "He would not be traveling on behalf of the U.S. government."
He also added, "We believe that anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder those release efforts.”
Rodman, 61, told ABC News that he now has now plans to go to Russia. He originally said: "I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl. I'm trying to go this week.”
In February, Griner, who had been in Russia playing for UMMC Yekaterinburg, was arrested by Russian Federal Customs Service at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow. Agents claimed they found hashish oil vape cartridges in her luggage. She was charged with transporting a “significant amount,” or 0.702 grams, of cannabis oil, according to The Washington Post. Griner’s arrest came amid tension escalating over Russia invading Ukraine.
Griner would plead guilty but argued in court that she did not intentionally put the cartridges in her luggage and packed them in haste. In a written statement, her defense presented evidence that she had been prescribed cannabis to treat pain. On Aug. 4, the WNBA star was convicted and later sentenced to 9 years in prison, which President Joe Biden stated was “unacceptable.”
Reuters reported that Russia's foreign ministry said his country and the United States were engaged in "quiet diplomacy" on a potential prisoner swap for the 31-year-old.
Brittney Griner has filed an appeal.
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