Brittney Griner All-Stars Brittney Griner, during the media day at Phoenix Mercury. Uscp 75fs9aqovsk1nhdf77xl Original

Former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson told CNN on Sunday that he’s “cautiously optimistic” imprisoned WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American prisoner will be released by “the end of the year.”

Richardson, through his self-named foundation, does extensive work on behalf of hostages and detainees.

Russian authorities accuse Griner of possessing hashish oil while attempting to board a domestic flight with her Russian Premiere League team. She has since pleaded guilty and been sentenced to nine years in prison. Griner’s wife recently detailed a “disturbing” call with the imprisoned star.

Richardson has twice visited Russia to negotiate on behalf of Griner and former United States Marine Paul Whelan.

“I do think [the American duo will be released at the end of the year],” Richardson told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union. “Now, I hate making predictions, but yes.”

“I know [the families are] very emotional and this is a very emotional time. All I can say is that the Biden administration is working hard on it,” said Richardson. “So am I. We coordinate, but [do] not always agree on every tactical decision. But I’m not going to interfere in their process. I’m just giving you my assessment after two visits to Russia on behalf of American hostages.”

Russian authorities will hear Griner’s appeal on Oct. 2nd.

[CNN; Griner photo from The Arizona Republic]