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Former U.S. Ambassador Reacts To Brittney Griner Developments

US basketball star Brittney Griner during her court hearing in Russia.

US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner sits inside a defendants' cage before a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on July 27, 2022. - Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and WNBA champion, was detained at Moscow airport in February on charges of carrying in her luggage vape cartridges with cannabis oil, which could carry a 10-year prison sentence. (Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Brittney Griner, a WNBA star, has been sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison. 

She was charged with drug smuggling after Russian police arrested her in an airport for having hash oil in a vape pen in her backpack. Griner's legal team filed an appeal earlier this week that would give her more time are her current location, rather than being placed in a tougher penitentiary.

Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., spoke with ABC Live News about the recent appeal and what it means for Griner moving forward.

Richardson is "optimistic" that conversations between the United States and Russia are moving in the right direction.

Here's what he said, via ABC:

There's been a prisoner exchange about two months ago, Trevor Reed, that I was indirectly involved in. I think the legal team of Brittney Griner has been effective [in] showing contrition, acknowledgment of the mistake and now the appeal. And I think…this potential return date from the American side is very important to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. So I think both sides are moving in the right direction and I'm optimistic.

The hope of a prisoner exchange has increased over the past few weeks. 

Hopefully Griner will be brought back to the United States in the near future.