Quantcast
Connect with us

Accused Russian agent Maria Butina to seek release from US jail

Published

on

Accused Russian agent Maria Butina’s lawyers were set to ask a U.S. judge on Monday to release her pending trial after prosecutors backed off their allegation that she had offered sex in exchange for a job at a special interest organization.

In a brief filed late on Sunday, Butina’s lawyers criticized the prosecution’s case for why she should remain jailed and cited a series of errors they said prosecutors have made.

ADVERTISEMENT

Butina, 29, is set to appear before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Monday afternoon for a status hearing. The former American University graduate student was charged in July with acting as an agent of the Russian government and conspiracy to take actions on behalf of Russia. She has pleaded not guilty. She could face years in prison if convicted.

Her lawyers said prosecutors also wrongly claimed she had applied for a tourist visa after completing her graduate studies. They said she actually had applied for work authorization permission, which they called “a fact that carries a very different implication about her future plans in the United States and undermines the government’s fear of her bolting to Russia.”

Shortly before midnight on Friday, prosecutors filed a brief with the court opposing a request by Butina’s lawyers to let her out of jail, arguing she remains a serious flight risk.

In the filing, they acknowledged they may have misinterpreted text messages between Butina and a person identified by the initials D.K. that they previously had cited as evidence that she had offered sex in exchange for a position in an unidentified special interest organization. They also admitted their mistake about the tourist visa.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, prosecutors wrote, “If the defendant is released, and she goes to the Russian embassy or consulate, she will be beyond the reach of this Court, and it will have no redress.”

Butina is accused of working with a Russian official and two unidentified U.S. citizens, trying to infiltrate a gun-rights organization in the United States and influence American foreign policy toward Russia.

The gun-rights group was not identified. However, her social media accounts show she attended many National Rifle Association events and met with top officials of the influential lobby group that has close ties to Republican politicians including President Donald Trump. The NRA did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

ADVERTISEMENT

Questions relating to Russia have cast a cloud over Trump’s presidency.

Butina’s lawyers identified the Russian official as Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who was hit with U.S. Treasury Department sanctions in April. One of the two U.S. people mentioned in the criminal complaint matches the description of Butina’s boyfriend Paul Erickson, a conservative U.S. political activist.

A magistrate judge in July ordered Butina jailed without bail pending trial after prosecutors presented evidence suggesting she had connections to Russian intelligence operatives and was being funded by Russian oligarchs.

ADVERTISEMENT

Russia has labeled the case against Butina “fabricated” and called for her release.

The Russian central bank has declined comment on the case.

Erickson could not be immediately reached and has previously not returned calls seeking comment on the case.

ADVERTISEMENT

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Here is why Trump is obsessed with Greenland

Published

on

They say that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Remember that President Harry Truman tried to purchase Greenland in 1946; now, in 2019, President Donald Trump is trying to do the same thing.

This article first appeared in Salon.

To be clear, Trump’s farcical, “absurd” idea — to borrow the adjective used by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen — is not happening, and was never going to happen. As Frederiksen pointed out, Greenland is “not for sale." Trump, for his part, has not backed down from the idea.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Iowa’s Steve King facing ouster because his campaign is broke and his allies have fled: report

Published

on

Iowa Republican Steve King is facing losing his seat representing his district in the U.S. House of Representatives as his campaign finds itself broke and the Republican Party has turned its back on him after his latest round of controversial comments.

According to a report from the Daily Beast, his campaign is struggling to bring donors -- who once wholeheartedly supported him --back into the fold.

Even worse, his colleagues in Congress have also abandoned him.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump admits he may have goofed up launching trade war with China: report

Published

on

According to a report from the Washington Post, Donald Trump admitted that he is now second-guessing himself over his trade war with China which has severely impacted American farmers and U.S. manufacturers.

The report is based upon an exchange between the president and a reporter that was noted by CNN's Jim Acosta.

Trump was reportedly asked by an unnamed reporter, "Mr. President, any second thoughts on escalating the trade war with China?”

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
HELP US UNCOVER CORRUPTION!
close-link
close-image