27 Nov 2018 18:05

Russian citizen Butina again switched to solitary confinement in U.S. can take walks only at night

MOSCOW. Nov 27 (Interfax) - Russian citizen Maria Butina, who is accused of committing illegal activities as a foreign agent in the United States, has again been moved to a solitary cell, the vice president of Russian division of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Ivan Melnikov, told Interfax on Tuesday.

"Maria again called her father to say that she has been in solitary confinement for seven days now. She is not allowed to take a walk during the day, only between 2 and 4 in the morning," Melnikov said.

This constitutes the creation of conditions of torture to exert psychological pressure on Butina, he said.

"It is unacceptable from the human rights standpoint. At night, a human being should be asleep, and they approach her, waking her up, and offering her to go out and take a walk. Of course, she can refuse, but as a rule, Maria agrees, because this is the only way she can get out of the cell, take a walk, and contact her father," Melnikov said.

Earlier, Butina's father asked the committee to help his daughter's lawyers in the U.S. protect her rights and interests.

On July 16, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Butina, 29, with "criminal conspiracy" and "working as a foreign agent [in the United States] without the proper notification of the Attorney General's Office."

According to investigators, Butina conspired to promote Russia's interests in the United States starting in 2015. Allegedly, she acted as an agent for a Russian official and used personal contacts with an American who had influence on U.S. policy.

According to Melnikov, police seized all of Butina's correspondence and electronic memory cards from the past eight years, approximately 12 terabytes of data.

She pleaded not guilty.

Butina was put in a solitary cell immediately after her arrest, but on September 22, the Russian embassy to the U.S. reported that the administration of the prison in the town of Alexandria had put moved her to the general population. Butina could then sleep normally, take exercise, and communicate with other inmates.