Russian spy Maria Butina pleads guilty in USA court

Russian spy Maria Butina pleads guilty in USA court

Russian spy Maria Butina pleads guilty in USA court

Under the plea agreement, Butina said she would cooperate with federal prosecutors. According to prosecutors, "throughout the conspiracy, Butina wrote notes to Russian Official about her efforts and her assessment of the political landscape in the United States in advance of the 2016 election".

But when asked by US District Judge Tanya Chutkan if her mind was clear as she prepared to enter her guilty plea, she replied: "Absolutely".

"Are you pleading guilty today because you are guilty?" She will, however, remain in custody until the sentence is decided at a hearing on February 12, 2019.

The 30-year-old has been jailed since July, when she was charged with acting as a Kremlin agent in connection with her efforts to cultivate connections with influential conservative figures and groups, most notably the National Rifle Association. Depending on how helpful Butia's cooperation is to prosecutors, they may also file an additional letter suggesting the judge lessen that sentence.

Law enforcement officials identified the unnamed American as Paul Erickson, a Republican activist and romantic companion of Butina.

Butina appeared in court Thursday wearing a green jail uniform, her red hair in a long braid running down her back. On the call, Butina referred to someone whom prosecutors believe could be her lawyer about acting as a go-between to pass messages to journalists. "Butina predicted that the candidate nominated by Political Party #1 would likely win the upcoming U.S. presidential election".

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Accused Russian spy Maria Butina has admitted in federal court that she had worked with a Russian contact to infiltrate American politics.

"I can understand that woman, she is being kept in the harshest conditions, for many many months now she has been subjected to a kind of torture: they would make her go for walks at night, forcibly interrupting her sleep, place her in single confinement, and many other things", Lavrov said. Prosecutors say Butina's work was directed by a former Russian lawmaker. Russian Federation is quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the US that isn't forthcoming under the current administration. She became the first Russian to be convicted of working to influence US policy during the 2016 presidential race and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Prosecutors also say it is "very likely" that she will be deported from the USA after her sentence is completed.

Her defense lawyers had argued that the portrayal made by prosecutors was an exaggerated caricature.

She allegedly tried to infiltrate the National Rifle Association (NRA) in an effort to influence U.S. policies in favour of Moscow. Butina's arrest was unrelated to the special counsel Robert Mueller investigation into alleged collusion between the Russian government and President Donald Trump. The now familiar phrase used here is that Butina admitted to doing this "under the direction" of the Russian official.

Erickson sought to help Butina and Torshin establish contacts with conservative groups, as well as with the Trump campaign. As a noncitizen, she would face deportation after serving any prison sentence.

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