The young woman being held by federal authorities on charges of working as a foreign agent reportedly met with a spy recruiter from the Kremlin, reports Politico.
According to the report, Maria Butina, who made inroads with the National Rifle Association, had dinner in January with Oleg Zhiganov, the longtime director of the Russian Cultural Centre which is believed by authorities to be a recruiting center for American spies.
The report states that the meeting between the two was confirmed on Friday, however the attorney for Butina said there was nothing to it and that she might have previously bumped into Zhiganov.
“As far as I know, they went out to dinner that one time,” Butina’s defense attorney, Robert Driscoll, said in an interview. “And she might have known him from events at the embassy.”
Butina is accused of working from 2015 until 2017 as a undercover Kremlin agent under the direction of a top Russian government official and central banker. Among the accusations against Butina are offering sex in exchange for a job at an unnamed U.S. special-interest organization, and infiltrating the NRA and other influential conservative political organizations to advocate for pro-Russia policies.
The report states that the federal authorities are aware of her contacts with Zhiganov, but investigators have refused to disclose Zhiganov’s identity in court filings.