Russian gun rights advocate Maria Butina is charged in U.S. with acting as Russian Federation agent

Russian gun rights advocate Maria Butina is charged in U.S. with acting as Russian Federation agent

Gun Rights

A Russian national with alleged ties to a top Russian official was charged in federal court in Washington on Monday with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation, and was ordered held without bond. Maria Butina, 29, was arrested Sunday in Washington and made her first appearance in U.S. District Court before Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson. Her attorney, Robert Neil Driscoll, told the judge that Butina’s residence was searched by the FBI in April, that she had testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session several months ago, and that "we have been offering to cooperate with the government the entire time." Butina did not speak during the brief hearing other than to state her name. A detention hearing and preliminary hearing were set for Wednesday. Butina is accused of developing relationships with American politicians and a "gun rights organization," none of which is named in the affidavit supporting the criminal complaint. FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson wrote that Butina was attempting to "establish a ‘back channel’ communication for representatives of the Government of Russia." The affidavit also contains apparent communications, by direct message on Twitter, between Butina and the unnamed Russian official. "Your political star has risen in the sky," the official told Butina. "Now it is important to rise to the zenith and not burn out (fall) prematurely," and they later discussed the "Russia-USA friendship society." Driscoll said during the hearing that Butina had recently earned a master’s degree in international relations […]

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