U.S. State Dept. Discourages Dennis Rodman From Traveling To Russia

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Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman.
The former NBA superstar has said he intends to travel to Russia to seek the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner from prison.

State Department Spokesman Ned Price says a visit to Russia from former professional basketball player Dennis Rodman would only "hinder and complicate" the negotiations that are currently happening to free Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.

Griner, an eight-time all-star center with the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

Reflecting the growing pressure on the Biden administration to do more to bring Griner home, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of revealing publicly in July that Washington had made a "substantial proposal" to get Griner home, along with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage.

Blinken didn't elaborate, but The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to free Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. and once earned the nickname the "Merchant of Death."

Price also spoke about the government's response to negotiate a return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

A resolution may be tantalizingly close.

But as the U.S. and Europe weigh Iran's latest response to an EU proposal described as the West's final offer, the administration faces new and potentially insurmountable domestic political hurdles to forging a lasting agreement.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.