WASHINGTON — Former NBA player Dennis Rodman reversed his decision of going to Russia to help Brittney Griner, the WBNA star who was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison earlier this month, according to ABC News.
On Monday, a State Department person told ABC News that Rodman would "not be traveling on behalf of the U.S. government," Rodman originally told NBC News over the weekend that he planned on going to Russia.
"I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl," the 61-year-old told NBC News on Saturday. "I'm trying to go this week."
Rodman was vague about what kind of permission he was granted to visit Russia. Currently, the State Department has a travel advisory that strongly urges Americans to avoid visiting Russia.
"Do not travel to Russia," the State Department advises, listing factors such as "the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine," the potential for "harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials," and "the singling out of U.S. citizens in Russia by Russian government security officials."
Rodman has a history of informal diplomacy as he has visited North Korea and even fostered a relationship with Kim Jung Un, according to NBC News. In 2018, Rodman showed up in Singapore as former President Donald Trump met with the North Korean leader.
Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that Bill Richardson, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a frequent emissary in hostage negotiations, said he was hopeful about the chances of a two-for-two prisoner swap that could result in Russia’s release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan.