Rodman said, 'I know Putin too well'; former NBA player has frequently met with Kim Jong Un
MOSCOW -- Dennis Rodman, the basketball Hall-of-Famer turned "unofficial ambassador," claims he's headed to Russia to help free WNBA star Brittney Griner, who's serving time in Russia on drug charges.
On Monday morning, a state department official told ABC News they're aware of reports that Dennis Rodman intends to travel to Russia after the former NBA star said he planned to travel to the country to help secure the release of Brittney Griner.
"I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl. I'm trying to go this week." Rodman told NBC, adding, "I know Putin too well."
The U.S. travel advisory for Russia remains at Level 4, meaning: "Do Not Travel," but Americans are still able to travel to the country.
Officials warn Rodman's interference could do more harm than good for Griner.
A senior Biden administration official said, "It is 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."
In the past decade, the five-time NBA champion has made multiple visits to North Korea, developing a relationship with Dictator Kim Jong Un.
"That's a friend of mine. OK, great. I don't look at the political side about him," Rodman said
Rodman credits himself with helping to secure the release of American Kenneth Bae from North Korea in 2014, who was arrested on dubious charges in 2012.
Rodman appeared to side with North Korea while discussing Bae's case.
"Do you understand what he did in this country?" Rodman asked.
Rodman later apologized, but Bae said he was thankful for Rodman's comments
"I want to thank Dennis Rodman for being a catalyst for my release. Because of his rant, the media attention of my plight was increased," Bae said.
As for the official talks on Brittney Griner's case, former UN ambassador Bill Richardson has said he's optimistic about chances for a prisoner swap with Russia.