Basketball star wants to see Putin: US government distances itself from Rodman's rescue mission

The US basketball player Brittney Griner has to go to prison in Russia for many years, and there are doubts about the legality of the process.

Basketball star wants to see Putin: US government distances itself from Rodman's rescue mission

The US basketball player Brittney Griner has to go to prison in Russia for many years, and there are doubts about the legality of the process. Basketball star Dennis Rodman, who says he "knows Putin too well," wants to travel to Moscow to get his compatriot released. The US government is skeptical about the trip.

According to a media report, ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman wants to travel to Russia and lobby Russian President Vladimir Putin for the release of convicted basketball player Brittney Griner. "I got permission to travel to Russia to help the girl," the 61-year-old was quoted as saying by the US broadcaster NBC News, who reportedly interviewed the athlete at a restaurant in Washington over the weekend. He did not say who should have given him this permission. He wants to leave this week. "I know Putin too well," Rodman was further quoted as saying.

The US State Department reacted tight-lipped to the report. When asked in Washington on Monday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the ministry had only heard of Rodman's statements from the media. "He would not be traveling on behalf of the US government," Price said. The US government made a proposal to Moscow to get Griner and Paul Whelan, an American also imprisoned in Russia, released. "We believe that anything beyond the established negotiation path could complicate and hamper these release efforts," he warned. In addition, the US government advises all Americans against traveling to Russia - not least because of the risk of unlawful imprisonment.

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February for possession of so-called vape cartridges and hashish oil and was sentenced to nine years in prison by a court in the Russian capital in early August. Internationally, the verdict triggered a wave of solidarity with the 31-year-old athlete. The basketball player reportedly appealed. The USA sharply criticized the decision of the Russian judiciary and demanded their release.

Rodman has a history of politically difficult trips: he once described North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-Un as a "friend for life". He visited the isolated country several times. Rodman emphasized at the time that he wanted to bring the United States and North Korea together. It was never entirely clear whether Rodman's visits and pleas really helped bring US prisoners back to freedom.

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