Dennis Rodman is flying to Russia to help release Brittney Griner
| Last updated
By Rachel Lang
Basketball champion Dennis Rodman is jetting off to Russia to plead with President Vladimir Putin to release American WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug possession.
"I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl," Rodman told NBC News.
"I'm trying to go this week."
If he manages to secure the release of the 31-year-old WNBA star it will be the second time that Rodman has aided a US citizen trapped in jail abroad.
In 2014, the Chicago Bulls icon claimed he managed to negotiate the release of several US citizens detained in North Korea, including Christian missionary Kenneth Bae, Time reports.
Bae was charged and imprisoned in North Korea after he was accused of attempting to overturn the government.
Rodman was able to visit North Korea thanks to his close relationship with dictator Kim Jong Un, who he has described as a 'friend for life'.
He has also previously described President Putin as 'cool' and has visited Russia several times.
Griner, 31, is currently behind bars after she was arrested at a Russian airport back in February for drug possession.
Police found cannabis oil cartridges in her luggage, which has since been confirmed to have contained less than a gram of THC.
She was subsequently found guilty during a politically charged trial and was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison.
The WNBA star has since been languishing in a jail that has been likened to the Soviet Union's notorious gulag labour camps.
Griner's wife, Cherelle spoke to CNN about the situation back in July, revealing that her wife was forced into a 'very, very, very tiny cage' for every five-hour trip to court in Russia,
"It's really, really difficult. This is not a situation where the rhetoric is matching the action," Cherelle began.
She continued: "I do have to unfortunately push people to make sure that the things they're telling me are also matching their actions and so it's been the hardest thing to balance because I can't let up."
Griner was arrested less than a week before Russia sent troops into Ukraine, which aggravated already high tensions between the two countries.
The invasion led to sweeping sanctions being imposed by the United States, and Russia denounced the US for sending weapons to Ukraine.
The US-Russia relationship has been fraught with tension ever since, with Rodman now hoping to heal some of those wounds while rallying for Griner's release.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: Australia, NBA, Basketball, Russia