Judge Orders Alleged Russian Agent Be Jailed Pending Trial
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered that alleged Russian agent Mariia Butina be jailed until her trial after U.S. prosecutors argued that she appears to have ties to Russian intelligence and poses a serious flight risk.
During a preliminary hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the lead prosecutor in the case showed a photo of Butina meeting an alleged Russian intelligence agent at a Washington restaurant.
The government also displayed a copy of a handwritten note uncovered by the FBI at Butina’s apartment asking how to respond to an employment offer from a Russian intelligence agency.
The 29-year-old former American University graduate student wore an orange prison jumpsuit and showed no emotion as her lawyer entered a not-guilty plea.
“We do not believe she was here … just to attend American University,” said Erik Michael Kenerson, the lead prosecutor, adding that Butina was engaged in a “covert influence campaign.”
Butina has been accused of working with a senior Russian official and two unidentified U.S. citizens, trying to infiltrate a gun rights organization in the United States and influence the United States’ foreign policy toward Russia.
Her social media accounts show she attended many National Rifle Association events and met with top officials of the group. She also founded a gun rights group in Russia.
Butina’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, said after she was arrested on Sunday without warning that she is not a Russian agent and poses no flight risk.
In a statement to reporters after the hearing, Driscoll said Butina wanted to send love to her parents and tell them she was OK. “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,” he said.
During the court hearing, Driscoll said Butina had not fled the country despite multiple opportunities to do so.
Earlier this year, he said, she testified voluntarily about her activities before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Epoch Times reporter Petr Svab contributed to this report.
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“If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”