Former basketball player Dennis Rodman told NBC News on Saturday he's planning a visit to Russia to help secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who's been detained in the country since February.
The big picture: Rodman, who has a relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has a history of conducting informal diplomacy on the U.S.' behalf during multiple trips to North Korea.
What he's saying: "I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl," Rodman told NBC News. "I'm trying to go this week."
- Rodman doesn't need U.S. permission to go to Russia, but the U.S. State Department has advised Americans from entering the country.
Rodman isn't as close with Russian President Vladimir Putin as he is with Kim, NBC News notes, but he called the leader "cool" after a 2014 trip to Moscow.
- "I know Putin too well," he told NBC News.
Background: Griner was found guilty on drug charges by a Russian court and sentenced to nine years in prison this month, months after Russian authorities said they found a vape cartridge with hashish oil in her luggage.