The Russian Embassy is lashing out at U.S. authorities.
The Russian government is demanding that Maria Butina, a woman accused of acting as a spy for that country, be released, and are criticizing the United States government with the way she has been treated.
The Hill says that the U.S. government has accused Butina as acting as an unregistered foreign agent. But representatives from the Russian Embassy say that Butina is being held on “trumped-up charges” and is being kept in solitary confinement in an attempt to “intimidate” her.
The Russian Embassy’s statement says they will continue to demand the release of Butina, whom they call a political prisoner.
“We will continue demanding the release of Maria, victim of the blatant outrage. If our American partners think they can comment on the detention of people who violated Russia’s state border, they should start by commenting [on] the situation around the political prisoner held in their country.”
The embassy is also pushing back about the Trump administration criticism of their dealings with Ukraine. Trump used the confrontation in the sea off of Crimea as an excuse not to keep his formal meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit.
But while the Russian government continues to say that Butina is being railroaded, the federal prosecutor doesn’t see it that way, because she is also accused of attempting to set up backchannel communications between her government and sympathetic and connected people within the United States.
The U.S. government is arguing that Butina is a flight risk, and so allowing her out of bail would be a mistake. They’ve said especially with the level of interest from the Russian government, they are certain she would flee.
“All of Butina’s known personal ties, save for those U.S. persons she attempted to exploit and influence, reside in the Russian Federation. Because Butina has been exposed as an illegal agent of Russia, there is the grave risk that she will appeal to those within that government with whom she conspired to aid her escape from the United States.”
But Butina isn’t the only one in this matter under a microscope, as her boyfriend, a GOP politico named Paul Erickson is now facing additional scrutiny, says the Daily Beast. Erickson has recently learned that he could also face charges of spying on his own government for the Kremlin at Butina’s behest.
Erickson will perhaps be charged under Section 951 of the U.S. code which is the law barring U.S. citizens from acting as secret agents of a foreign government.
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