Tuesday 20 August 2019

Russian agent is jailed on conspiracy charge

 

Maria Butina appears in a police booking photograph. Photo: Alexandria Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS
Maria Butina appears in a police booking photograph. Photo: Alexandria Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS

Sarah N Lynch

A US federal judge yesterday sentenced Russian agent Maria Butina to 18 months in prison after she pleaded guilty in December to conspiring with a Russian official to infiltrate a gun rights group and influence US conservative activists and Republicans.

US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan said the 18-month sentence will include the approximately nine months Butina already has served in jail since her arrest last July.

She also agreed to have Butina deported back to Russia after she completes her sentence.

"This was no simple misunderstanding by an over-eager foreign student," the judge said before imposing the sentence, which was the length of prison time prosecutors had recommended.

Butina's lawyers had asked the judge to impose a sentence of time served, and the probation office had suggested a sentence of 12 months and one day.

Butina, a former graduate student at American University in Washington DC who publicly advocated in favour of gun rights, begged the judge for mercy before her sentencing and expressed remorse.

Clad in a green prison jumpsuit, her voice broke at times as she read from a prepared statement.

"I have three degrees, but now I am a convicted felon with no job, no money," she said.

She also said she was "deeply sorry" and asked the judge for mercy.

Irish Independent

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