Quantcast
Connect with us

American ‘spy’ captured by Russia might be payback for Maria Butina according to ex-CIA officers

Published

on

CIA veterans are alleging that the arrest of Paul Whelan in Russia is more about the capture of Maria Butina than anything else, the Daily Beast reported.

Since her arrest, Russia has denied that she was a spy. In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in early December that “nobody” working for his spy agencies “knows anything about” Butina. Yet, now, Russia has captured Whelan, claiming he was on a “spy mission” while in Moscow. It makes the Russian claims Butina was a “nobody” suspicious at best.

ADVERTISEMENT

“This wasn’t planned yesterday,” said former CIA Moscow station chief Dan Hoffman. “It was probably planned back after [Butina] was arrested. They want to deter future U.S. actions against other private citizens.”

For a country that has claimed Butina wasn’t more than a citizen, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson seemed awfully concerned about Butina’s treatment, claiming she was being tortured by the government.

“We designated her as a political prisoner from the very first days,” Maria Zakharova said just two days after Putin dismissed her being important to the country. “It’s not about justice, it’s not justice. It’s just inquisition. It’s medieval inquisition. Because she is intimidated, she was tortured and was not treated like a human being, not like a woman. I think she was treated and is still treated probably as a terrorist or something like that.”

Department of Justice lawyers have said since September that the concern about Butina from the Russian consulates indicates the leaders are more concerned about Butina than they should be if she were just an activist.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Since the detention hearing in this case, the actions of the Russian Federation and its officials toward the defendant have confirmed her relationship with, and value to, her own government,” they wrote. “To date, the Russian government has conducted six consular visits with the defendant.”

They also noted that the Kremlin had doled out more diplomatic notes for Butina than for other Russians imprisoned. It was one of the main reasons the U.S. lawyers determined it wasn’t “hypothetical” she’d be a flight risk if she was released on bail.

Former CIA officer John Sipher argued that it was “highly unlikely” Whelan was working for an intelligence agency because doing so now would be far too risky.

ADVERTISEMENT

“From my experience, we would almost never send someone to Russia without diplomatic immunity,” he said. “Given the laxity of Russian laws and the aggressiveness of their espionage apparatus, we could not guarantee the safety of someone traveling under unofficial cover.”

“We would never leave a real intelligence officer vulnerable to arrest, and give Putin a weapon to trade for someone like Ames, Hanssen or Butina,” Sipher continued.

It isn’t the first time that Russia has arrested an American alleging they were a spy, however. The Beast recalled the arrest of reporter Nicholas Daniloff in 1986 by the KGB. It was just three days after the FBI arrested alleged intelligence officer Gennadi Zakharov.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pundits have speculated that Butina would likely be released on a prisoner swap at some point, but those cable news comments came before Whelan was arrested.

Just prior to the announcement that Whelan was taken, Putin sent a note to Trump saying that he was open to a meeting again, though it was focused on Syria.

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

Trump’s broken at least 8 huge promises he made to his base — and has already started blaming others

Published

on

President Donald Trump, like all politicians, came into office promising to make bold and dramatic changes.

On Wednesday, Axios ran through some of the major things Trump promised to do as president — and which of those things he has accomplished or is working on.

On the one hand, Trump threw out a number of Obama-era regulations, appointed two ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices, dramatically harshened U.S. immigration policy, imposed tariffs on China, withdrew or began the process of withdrawing from a number of international agreements, and passed a major tax cut.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump insists ‘our economy is sooo strong’ — then blames ‘lamestream media’ if it tanks

Published

on

President Donald Trump continued laying the groundwork to convince his supporters the looming recession was caused by the media, not his economic policies.

Trump and his White House aides have called into question economic data showing a recession on the horizon, saying the economy was fundamentally strong, while also suggesting a downturn was caused by his political enemies to undermine his re-election chances.

"The Fake News LameStream Media is doing everything possible the 'create' a U.S. recession," Trump tweeted, "even though the numbers & facts are working totally in the opposite direction. They would be willing to hurt many people, but that doesn’t matter to them. Our Economy is sooo strong, sorry!"

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

GOP donors are ‘rattled’ by bad economic signs and are searching for a Trump primary challenger: Former GOP senator

Published

on

Former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told the Washington Post on Wednesday that he's received calls from several nervous Republican donors who fear a slowing or shrinking economy will doom the GOP in 2020 -- and they're looking to find a primary challenger for President Donald Trump.

Although Flake declined to name the donors, he did say that they believe the GOP stands no chance of winning in 2020 if the economy sputters, especially since Trump's divisive leadership style has permanently alienated so many Americans.

"They are wondering, if the economy isn’t stellar next year, how is the party going to win?" Flake said. "By the president offending more people?"

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
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image