Russian spy sentenced to 18 months for infiltrating America's National Rifle Association

Russian spy sentenced to 18 months for infiltrating America's National Rifle Association

Prosecutors allege she sought to cultivate ties with USA political groups and individuals - primarily conservatives - on behalf of Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of Russia's Central Bank and a former Russian senator, whom Spanish investigators have linked to Russian mafia activity.

Butina pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to act as a foreign agent. "I wish you the best of luck", she said. But she also acknowledged that Butina is a first-time offender and, at age 30, has plenty of time to start anew.

The 18 months recommended by prosecutors were less than they could have sought, reflecting Butina's cooperation after her guilty plea that included her speaking to a congressional committee, the FBI and federal prosecutors.

Butina's lawyers presented her in a different light. Both parties agreed to a swift deportation once she completed her sentence - an order that the judge approved.

However, Potapov noted that was able to speak with Butina over the telephone and said she was very disappointed that he was unable to visit her.

Her lawyers have denied that her conduct was "nefarious", even while conceding she should have registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent.

Speaking in Beijing, Putin said the sentence looked like an attempt by USA law enforcement and judicial officials to save face.

Many of those meetings have been documented on Butina's social media pages, which feature photos of her attending NRA conferences, a high-profile annual prayer breakfast in Washington, and posing for pictures with people including Republican former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a 2016 presidential candidate.

She said it was particularly hard to have to confront some of the salacious allegations prosecutors made against her and answer her family's questions about them.

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Butina, who moved to the United States from Siberia in 2016 to study, used her affair with a Republican donor to meet political figures and report back to officials in Russian Federation.

The Russian operative also considered sex as part of her arsenal to gain influence.

Prosecutor Erik Kenerson told the court Butina's activities were more serious.

Butina was arrested in July under suspicion of being a Russian spy.

In court, Butina said, "ignorance of the law is not an excuse, in the United States or in Russian Federation, and so I humbly request forgiveness".

Whelan's brother David doesn't believe the two cases are related, but Hall said Washington "has to take into account that they do have an American over there, and we have a Russian here".

The federal judge, Chutkan, appeared undeterred by Butina's sometimes emotional appeal, noting that while USA law protects freedoms, "the rule of law means something". -Russian relations. He argued that her gun rights activism was "sincere" and that such advocacy was an American "bedrock principle".

The official, Robert Anderson, did not speak at the hearing but Chutkan made multiple references to a sworn affidavit he had submitted as she weighed the gravity of Butina's dealings.

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