Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Dillon Burroughs.
NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman said he has "permission"
to travel to Russia to advocate on behalf of the WNBA's Brittney Griner, who has been sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison on drug charges.
Rodman shared the news at a restaurant in Washington, D.C., that was first reported by NBC News.
"I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,"
Rodman told NBC News. "I'm trying to go this week."
The NBC report did not specify who Rodman claims gave him "permission"
to travel to Russia to lobby for Griner's release.
Rodman's eclectic past has previously included a friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The former NBA champion claimed he helped with the release of American Kenneth Bae from the country in 2014.
Americans do not currently require special permission to travel to Russia. However, a State Department travel advisory warns U.S. citizens not to enter the country.
"Do not travel to Russia due to the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials, the singling out of U.S. citizens in Russia by Russian government security officials including for detention, the arbitrary enforcement of local law, limited flights into and out of Russia, the Embassy's limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19-related restrictions, and terrorism,"
the warning reads.
"U.S. citizens residing or travelling in Russia should depart Russia immediately,"
the statement adds. "Exercise increased caution due to wrongful detentions."
American credit and debit cards are no longer working in Russia, while electronic funds transfer to the nation is limited, the State Department notes.
NBC News reported it reached out to the White House regarding Rodman's plans. The U.S. State Department also did not immediately respond to The Daily Wire's request for comment about Rodman's statement.
The State Department has already been in negotiations to free Griner, but efforts have seemingly failed so far.
"I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,"
Griner said ahead of the delivery of the verdict earlier this month. "I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn't end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom."
Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17 after cannabis-infused vape cartridges were found in her luggage. She pled guilty to the drug charges.
Her arrest occurred just one week before Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia has since been heavily sanctioned by the U.S. and other nations over the actions, with many arguing Griner's treatment is motivated by politics.
Following Griner's sentence, President Joe Biden released a statement condemning the decision.
"Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. It's unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,"
Biden wrote in the statement. "My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible."