Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina held without bail

Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina held without bail

Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina held without bail

Butina, a Russian national, was charged with conspiracy and acting illegally as a foreign agent in the US.

Court papers unsealed Monday, July 16, 2018, photographed in Washington, shows part of the criminal complaint against Maria Butina.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russia's foreign ministry criticised Butina's arrest, saying it was meant to undermine the "positive results" of a summit between the USA and Russian leaders.

Butina's attorney, Robert Driscoll, has argued that Butina does not constitute a flight risk and should therefore not remain in jail ahead of a trial. He added that Butina voluntarily appeared "months ago" before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and "testified for 8 hours and produced thousands of documents". "She's certainly not a danger to the community".

He argued that the case against Butina was "overblown" and claimed there was "no indication" of her attempting to "influence or undermine" United States policy.

It was apparent Butina was getting ready to leave Washington, the United States said. She stood up and asked Trump whether he would end the "damaging" US government sanctions on Russian Federation.

The 29-year-old is alleged to have been in contact with Russian intelligence officials and spoke to wealthy Russian oligarchs to fund her trip to America, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Journalist and author Michael Isikoff reacted to the indictment of a 29-year-old Russian woman who is accused of covertly working as a foreign agent within the United States.

Butina, who founded a pro-gun Russian advocacy group called Right to Bear Arms, has not been charged with espionage or with being a member of a Russian intelligence service.

Butina became well-known around Washington because of her odd self-promotion as a Russian gun rights activist.

"This person often travels to the United States and has also been referred to as her "funder" throughout her correspondence", prosecutors said. They also claim she's "well-connected to wealthy businessmen in the Russian oligarchy", by detailing a correspondence with a "funder" who is a "known Russian businessman with deep ties to the Russian Presidential Administration".

The 29-year-old former American University graduate student was set to appear for a preliminary hearing in the US District Court for the District of Columbia this afternoon. They said they found in her contact list an email account with an FSB-associated domain.

The Justice Department said Ms Butina has been in contact with Russian intelligence operatives, kept contact information for several Russian agents and had a handwritten note in her Washington apartment asking how to respond to an offer of employment with a Russian intelligence agency.

Earlier this year, Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance observed Butina having dinner with a Russian diplomat.

Her personal ties, "save for those U.S. persons she attempted to exploit and influence", are to Russian Federation, according to the government court filing.

Russia's foreign ministry, calling the allegations against Butina "groundless", said her detention was carried out to minimize the impact of the recent summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump later issued a public clarification of his remarks, saying he misspoke and accepted the USA intelligence finding of Russian meddling in the election, although he immediately followed up by saying it could've been someone else too.

The FBI's investigation of Butina began before the probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, and the indictment did not involve Mueller's team.

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