Russian ‘agent’ Maria Butina held in US jail over conspiracy charges

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An alleged Russian spy is said to have exchanged sex for a position within a special interest organisation.

Maria Butina has been held without bail after appearing in a court in the US accused of acting as an unregistered agent at the direction of a Kremlin official, and acting on behalf of the Russian government.

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 FBI.

Maria Butina with envoy Alexander Torshin  Russian ‘agent’ Maria Butina held in US jail over conspiracy charges skynews torshin russia diplomat 4365498
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Maria Butina with envoy Alexander Torshin

Appearing at a preliminary hearing, Butina wore her orange prison jumpsuit and showed no emotion while he lawyer entered the not guilty plea.

In court, prosecutors showed a photo of Butina meeting an alleged Russian intelligence operative at a restaurant in Washington.

She is also said to have offered sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organisation, which has not been named.

One of the organisations she is accused of infiltrating is the National Rifle Association (NRA), a strong ally of the Republican party.

The government says Butina is a flight risk and the court had to consider whether she would flee if she was granted bail.

Maria Butina allegedly traded sex for a position within a special interest organisation. Pic: Facebook  Russian ‘agent’ Maria Butina held in US jail over conspiracy charges skynews maria butina butina 4365493
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Maria Butina allegedly traded sex for a position within a special interest organisation. Pic: Facebook

Prosecutors said: “The concern that Butina poses a risk of flight is only heightened due to her connection to suspected Russian intelligence operatives.”

After the hearing, her lawyer Robert Driscoll said: “While we respect the court, we strongly disagree that there were no conditions of release short of incarceration to detain an innocent student before trial.”

Prosecutors also detailed texts between the official and Butina in which the official compares her with Anna Chapman and asks if fans want her autographs yet.

The text included: “You have upstaged Anna Chapman. She poses with toy pistols, while you are being published with real ones.”

Butina with a Republican party hopeful, Scott Walker  Russian ‘agent’ Maria Butina held in US jail over conspiracy charges skynews butina maria butina 4365494
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Butina with a Republican party hopeful, Scott Walker

Ms Chapman was exchanged as part of a spy swap in 2010.

Russia’s foreign affairs spokesman Maria Zakharova touched on Butina’s situation in her weekly press briefing, saying US law enforcement was making up sensational stories about Russia meddling in US politics instead of fighting crime.

Ms Zakharova told reporters they were drumming up Russophobic hysteria in America by making far fetched claims about Butina being a Russian agent.

Maria Butina allegedly traded sex for a position within a special interest organisation. Pic: Facebook  Russian ‘agent’ Maria Butina held in US jail over conspiracy charges skynews maria butina butina 4365493
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Maria Butina allegedly traded sex for a position within a special interest organisation. Pic: Facebook

She said people were sitting with calculators and watches to time the arrest of the 29-year-old Russian student in Washington in order to best minimise the success of the Trump-Putin Summit.

If the US was really worried about what Butina was doing then it could have been passed on to Russia to investigate or been discussed on the sidelines of the summit.

The 29-year-old is charged with conspiracy. Pic: Facebook  Russian ‘agent’ Maria Butina held in US jail over conspiracy charges skynews butina maria butina 4365490
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The 29-year-old is charged with conspiracy. Pic: Facebook

She added that the Russian Consul in US was attempting to get access to Butina.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House was looking at the Butina case.

Butina’s lawyer Mr Driscoll said the charges were overblown, saying she was just a student who “at most” wanted a better relationship between the US and Russia.

If found guilty of conspiracy, Butina could face up to five years in jail.



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