HomeNewsBrittney Griner: Can Dennis Rodman free the WNBA star from Russia?

Brittney Griner: Can Dennis Rodman free the WNBA star from Russia?

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Dennis Rodman, the eccentric former NBA icon, has mentioned he plans to jet out to Russia to plead for the discharge of Brittney Griner, the American girls’s basketball star imprisoned on doubtful drug trafficking fees after her arrest simply days earlier than the outbreak of the warfare in Ukraine.

Ms Griner, 31, was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after being present in possession of marijuana oil for a vape pen, which is unlawful in Russia and has seen her sentenced to 9 years behind bars, though the US has argued her detention is a politically-motivated response to the sanctions imposed on the nation over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the neighbouring sovereign state.

“I obtained permission to go to Russia to assist that lady,” Mr Rodman, 61, advised NBC Information. “I’m attempting to go this week.”

It’s not but clear whether or not the White Home granted that permission or whether or not it’s an official go to, though one unnamed aide advised NBC they thought the intervention would do extra hurt than good.

“It’s public info that the administration has made a major supply to the Russians and something apart from negotiating additional via the established channel is more likely to complicate and hinder launch efforts,” they mentioned.

That provide pertains to a proposed prisoner swap, exchanging Ms Griner and one other American, Paul Whelan, for Russian arms seller Viktor Bout.

There are at present no restrictions on Americans visiting Moscow, though the State Division has suggested towards it due to the battle, warning of potential “harassment” from officers and the danger of “wrongful detention”.

Mr Rodman, a pivotal a part of Michael Jordan’s legendary Chicago Bulls workforce of the Nineteen Nineties, identified for his “dangerous boy” persona on the court docket, flamboyant dyed hair and high-profile relationships with Madonna and Carmen Electra, has beforehand hung out in North Korea after befriending dictator Kim Jong-un.

Mr Rodman met Mr Kim after visiting the nation for a basketball exhibition tour in 2013, subsequently calling on then-US president Barack Obama to achieve out and enhance relations between the 2 international locations.

He additionally tweeted Pyongyang calling for the discharge of American prisoner and Christian missionary Kenneth Bae after studying about his case in The Seattle Instances, an occasion that really did come to cross in November 2014.

“My mission is to interrupt the ice between hostile international locations,” he advised Sports activities Illustrated in July 2013.

“Why it’s been left to me to clean issues over, I don’t know. Dennis Rodman, of all individuals. However I’ll let you know this: If I don’t end within the prime three for the subsequent Nobel Peace Prize, one thing’s severely improper.”

Brittney Griner behind bars in Moscow

(AP)

He visited North Korea on a lot of events that yr organising exhibition video games however was criticised after altering his tune on Mr Bae throughout an interview with CNN in January 2014 during which he urged the captive, sentenced to fifteen years’ exhausting labour after being charged with plotting to overthrow the federal government, was at fault for his detention.

Accused of being Mr Kim’s stooge, Mr Rodman apologised, retracted his comment and attributed it to alcohol and stress.

Nonetheless, Mr Bae duly emerged unscathed later that yr and credited the celeb with securing his launch, saying he had helped to boost consciousness of his plight all over the world.

Mr Rodman grew to become a outstanding backer of Donald Trump in 2016 and returned to Pyongyang at the least twice throughout his presidency in an try and smoothe relations between Mr Trump and Mr Kim as they traded insults on social media over the latter’s sabre-rattling missile testing programmes.

The basketball nice reportedly gifted Mr Kim a replica of the luxurious property mogul’s well-known ghost-written memoirThe Artwork of the Deal (1987) as a part of his goodwill mission, which turned out to be sponsored by Canadian cryptocurrency enterprise PotCoin.

Whereas Mr Rodman has by no means admitted any presidential involvement in his visits to North Korea, it’s true that one other American detainee, 22-year-old scholar Otto Warmbier, was launched on the day of his arrival in Pyongyang in June 2017 (Warmbier was in a non-responsive coma on the time and sadly handed away quickly after being reunited along with his household in Cincinnati, Ohio).

Whether or not Dennis Rodman’s distinctive profile and affect will carry the identical weight with the Kremlin stays to be seen, though Vladimir Putin is hardly as impressionable and hungry for consideration and adulation as his North Korean counterpart.

Mr Rodman did notoriously describe Mr Putin as “a cool man” in 2014, nonetheless, which is the form of flattery from an elite sportsman that may simply enchantment to the Russian tyrant’s sense of self-importance.

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