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WNBA star Brittney Griner is receiving even more bad news in her journey to be freed from a Russian prison.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman plans to go to Russia to ask for Griner’s release.
He has been to North Korea and formed a friendship with North Korean President Kim Jong Un.
However, the United States State Department strongly encouraged him to not make the trip.
“He would not be traveling on behalf of the U.S. government,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a press briefing on Monday.
“We believe that anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder those release efforts,” he said.
After they made that statement, Rodman said that he would not go to Russia.
But, last week he told ABC News that he had received permission to go to Russia to assist Griner.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” he said to ABC News. “I’m trying to go this week.”
“It’s public information that the administration has made a significant offer to the Russians and anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder release efforts,” a United States official said to ABC News.
Griner would benefit from leaving Russia sooner than later, though.
Former Russian prisoner, Trevor Reed, detailed what life could be like for Griner in the Russian prison.
“Regardless of how you feel about Brittney Griner’s case, that sentence is clearly political. There’s no denying that,” he said to CNN.
“Once you are convicted in Russian court, you do have a chance to go to appeals, and appeal that decision to another kangaroo court in Moscow. So after that trial, you know, depending on Brittney’s decision on whether she wants to appeal or not, she may stay in Moscow at the detention facility that she is already at until her appeals are completed. Or if she chooses not to go to appeals, they may transfer her to a forced labor camp. Considering the fact that the Russian government is considering exchanging her, they may also decide to leave her in Moscow to make it easier for her to be returned to the United States,” he said.
Reed said that people who are sent to the labor camps face serious threats to their health because of malnutrition and lack of medical care.
“I am hoping that there will be an exchange that we are able to get them home, so I am hoping for the best in that,” he said of Griner and Paul Whelan.
Griner pleaded guilty to bringing vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil in them, which is a crime in Russia. She has been sentenced to 9 years in prison.
Griner’s attorney mentioned that even in Russia, the sentence Griner received is unusually long and harsh.