Former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman has reversed course and says that he is no longer planning to go to Russia.
Rodman had told a reporter earlier this week that he was going to travel to Russia in order to help secure the release of Women’s National Basketball Association player Brittney Griner.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” Rodman told NBC News on Saturday. “I’m trying to go this week.”
Rodman added, “I know Putin too well.”
Griner was arrested in Russia for bringing marijuana into the country and has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
On Monday, the US government strongly advised the former athlete not to go.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price told ABC News on Monday that if Rodman did travel to Russia, “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 added.
Price warned that any American, not just Rodman, who travels to Russia risks wrongful detention.
“We’ve also provided 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,” Price continued. “That has been our message to private Americans across the board.”
Now, Rodman says that he is no longer going.
Since leaving sports, Rodman has become known for his unofficial diplomacy with foreign nations.
Rodman previously said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “cool” and visited Moscow in 2014.
The star has a friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and has visited the secretive nation multiple times.
Earlier this month, Joe Biden said that the US is working to get Griner and another American imprisoned in Russia back.
“My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely,” Biden said.
Biden has not elaborated on what they are doing.