Published: Thu, July 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

U.S. prosecutors want suspected covert Russian agent kept in jail

U.S. prosecutors want suspected covert Russian agent kept in jail

Maria Butina was arrested in Washington on Sunday and appeared in court on Monday.

Up until she planned to leave the country last week, Butina relied on a web of people, including Russian spies, oligarchs, a Russian diplomat and an American she offered sex to in exchange for political access to help her spy efforts, prosecutors said in the new filing.

Robert Driscoll, an attorney for Butina, said in a statement to the Washington Post that she "intends to defend her rights vigorously and looks forward to clearing her name".

Butina is also well-connected to wealthy businessmen in the Russian oligarchy, according to prosecutors who allege her Twitter messages, chat logs, and emails refer to a known Russian businessman with deep ties to Putin's administration and who was listed in Forbes as having a net worth of US$1.2 billion.

The 29-year-old told a Russian official she must remain "incognito" and keep everything "quiet and careful" the month before the 2016 United States election, according to messages allegedly uncovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Because Butina has been exposed as an illegal agent of Russian Federation, there is the grave risk that she will appeal to those within that government with whom she conspired to aid her escape from the United States", the government's attorneys wrote.

Prosecutors also alleged that she used a personal relationship with an unnamed American political operative, with whom she was living, "as simply a necessary aspect" of her covert activities on behalf of Russian Federation.

"[Chapman] poses with toy pistols, while you are being published with real ones".

Butina has been charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian government.

Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance also spotted her with a Russian diplomat whom American officials believe was an intelligence officer.

"Unrelated to specific presidential campaigns, I've been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key POLITICAL PARTY 1 leaders through, of all conduits, the [GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION]", he wrote.

Maria Butina, the Russian gun-rights activist who has been accused by the American government of being a spy, allegedly offered sex to an unnamed official in exchange for a job with an unnamed "special interest organization".

Butina was likely in contact with the Russian Federal Security Service, known as FSB, throughout her time in the United States, prosecutors said. "What can I say!"

The 29-year-old former American University graduate student was set to appear for a preliminary hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday afternoon.

In documents seized by the FBI, Butina "complained about living with U.S. Person 1", they wrote.

Alexander Torshin (center). AP Erickson first invited scrutiny previous year, when The New York Times reported that he emailed Trump campaign aide Rick Dearborn in May 2016, with the subject line "Kremlin Connection", telling him that he could arrange a backdoor meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Butina case was not brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election. Law enforcement officials then became concerned that Butina appeared to be planning to leave the Washington area and made a decision to seek charges and make an arrest, according to people familiar with the case.

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