The U.S. government on Monday strongly discouraged former NBA player Dennis Rodman from traveling to Russia to help secure the release of detained WNBA star Brittney Griner.
The former NBA player has called off his trip, ABC News reports.
As previously reported by REVOLT, Rodman revealed that he was preparing to head to Russia as early as this week. “I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” he said in a previous interview. “I’m trying to go this week.” Griner was detained by Russian officials on Feb. 17 and was found guilty on drug charges earlier this month. The Phoenix Mercury player was also sentenced to nine years in prison after she was caught with vape cartridges that allegedly contained hashish oil, which is considered an illegal substance in the country.
Rodman was strongly advised not to head to Russia to attempt to negotiate Griner’s release. During a press briefing on Monday (Aug. 22), State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that if the 61-year-old were to embark on a journey to the country, “he would not be traveling on behalf of the U.S. government.”
“We believe that anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder those release efforts,” Price explained. While Rodman doesn’t need permission from the U.S. to travel to Russia, he would need a visa from Moscow to gain access into the country. Along with the warning from Price, a senior Biden administration official also advised the former Chicago Bulls player not to travel, citing the current U.S. travel advisory that is in place.
“We’ve also provided a very clear guidance to American citizens – owing to a number of threats, not the least of which is the threat of wrongful detention – that Americans should not travel to Russia,” said Price. “That has been our message to private Americans across the board.”