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Former U.S. ambassador to UN: Sentencing may help expedite Griner's release

Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia for nearly six months on drug charges. And those hoping for her return were devastated when she was hit with a nine-year prison sentence last week.

But Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told CNN the sentencing may help expedite Griner’s release.

"Now that the court system is over with Brittney Griner, and has been over with Paul Whelan — let’s not forget him, the American Marine — then the Russians and other countries that I’ve dealt with say, ‘OK, the court process is over. We’re ready to negotiate,'" Richardson said. 

Richardson is involved in those negotiations and is optimistic Griner and Whelan will be released in exchange for two Russian prisoners.

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News director Chad Snow joined the KJZZ newsroom in 2016.