Five-time NBA champion Dennis Rodman, 61, announced that he was “allowed to travel to Russia” to seek the release of basketball player Britney Grenier, 31. A Russian court recently sentenced the WNBA star to nine years in prison on drug possession and trafficking charges after he was detained in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.
“I am trying to go this week to help the girl. I know Putin very well,” Rudman told NBC News. “Putin is a wonderful man,” the controversial former basketball player, a diplomat in his spare time, said in 2014, after meeting with the President of Russia. Also famous are Rodman’s meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom he considers a “friend for life”, twice in 2013 and once in 2017, and his support in 2015 for his candidacy of Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States.
Rodman’s presence embarrassed the administration of President Joe Biden, which considered the arrest a “mistake” and was negotiating a prisoner exchange with Russia.
In comments reported by The Washington Post, a presidential spokesman, who asked not to be identified due to the “sensitivity of the situation,” said Rodman’s actions “may likely complicate efforts to secure Grenier’s release.”
The basketball player, who was arrested with 0.702 grams of cannabis in e-cigarette pen oil in one of her handbags, pleaded guilty at trial but added that she did not want to harm anyone.
However, Rodman did not clarify who authorized him to travel to Moscow, or what plans were to help Griner.