(NewsNation) — Turkish prison escapee Billy Hayes says it brings “too much attention” for famous stars to go to Russia to help WNBA player Brittney Griner, instead of her negotiations being handled quietly and behind the scenes.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman reportedly said he is traveling to Russia to help secure the release of Griner. Rodman, who previously inserted himself into U.S.-North Korea diplomacy, told NBC News on Saturday he secured permission to travel to Russia and is “trying to go this week.”
“Having all of this notoriety, and famous stars, coming to help. It brings too much attention on the situation and adds a lot of X-factors,” Hayes told NewsNation’s “Banfield” on Monday night. “This is about face. About Russia, not losing face. About Vladimir Putin not losing face. So if Dennis can help, that would be good. I don’t think he should go. In fact, I think he should reconsider.”
In 1970 Hayes was an English major who left college, but he had a rude awakening when he was arrested at a Turkish airport while carrying four pounds of hashish. He was given a life sentence.
Five years after his arrest, with no movement on the diplomatic side, Hayes escaped back to the United States as a fugitive.
He shares a similar story to Griner, who was caught with vape cartridges containing hashish oil.