DOJ Charges 29-Year-Old Suspected Russian Spy
A 29-year-old Russian national has been charged with spying for Russia within the United States, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on July 16.
Mariia Butina, a resident of the city of Washington, was arrested on July 15.
According to the DOJ, Butina had been working since 2015 as a spy at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government.
The official was allegedly previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and a top official at the Russian Central Bank.
The official, who was not named by the DOJ, was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in April this year.
According to the DOJ, Butina had developed “relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation.”
She had allegedly come to the United States on a student visa.
“She undertook her activities without officially disclosing the fact that she was acting as an agent of Russian government, as required by law,” the DOJ said in a statement.
The announcement of the charges against Butina came on the same day that President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During a joint press conference in Helsinki, Trump said that “our relationship has never been worse than it is now.”
“However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that,” Trump said referring to the meeting he had with Putin.
In April, the Trump administration issued new sanctions targeting Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they control or own. The sanctions also targeted 17 senior Russian government officials and a state-owned Russian company that sells arms.
In March, Trump had ordered the expulsion of dozens of Russian intelligence officers from the United States in response to Russia’s suspected use of a military-grade chemical weapon in the UK.
Trump also ordered the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.