26 Oct 2019 15:04

U.S. Embassy in Russia insists U.S. judicial system was right in Butina's case

MOSCOW. Oct 26 (Interfax) - The United States Embassy in Russia has defended the judicial system of its country in light of Maria Butina's case.

"Russian national Maria Butina was released from prison on October 25, 2019. She was deported after she served an 18 month sentence in a U.S. prison for conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government," the U.S. embassy said on Twitter on Saturday.

"Butina committed a crime. She was arrested and presented with the evidence, pleaded guilty and was sentenced. Her statement of offenses and plea agreements are public documents. This is what a fair and open justice system looks like," the embassy said.

On October 25, Butina was released from a U.S. penitentiary and was taken into custody by immigration authorities, waiting to be deported. On Saturday afternoon, she arrived at the Sheremetyevo International Airport on the plane from Miami. Several dozen of journalists were waiting for her.

The former aide to Russian Federation Council member Alexander Torshin and the founder of the Right to Bear Arms association, Maria Butina entered the U.S. on a student visa, as she studied at the American University in Washington DC until spring 2018. She was arrested on July 15, 2018. The U.S. Justice Department charged Butina with conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government in the U.S. without prior notification to the Attorney General.

The investigation established that Butina had conspired to infiltrate conservative U.S. circles to promote Russian interests, acted as an agent of a Russian government official, and used her personal relations with an American who could influence U.S. politics. Butina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to act as an illegal foreign agent and concluded a plea deal with the prosecution at the end of 2018.

On April 26, a U.S. court sentenced Butina to 18 months for undeclared activities in favor of Russia's interests in the U.S. She was credited for nine months she had already been held in prison pending trial. Following the deportation, she will be unable to ask for permission to enter the U.S. for ten years.