Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is claiming that Maria Butina is a political prisoner and should be immediately released by the U.S. government. Butina was arrested earlier this month on the charge of acting as an agent of a foreign government without informing U.S. officials.
The accused Russian spy is believed to have infiltrated the NRA and other political organizations. During a phone call with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompey, Lavrov claimed the charges against Butina were, false and demanded her immediate release.
Lavrov pushed, “the unacceptability of the actions of the US authorities, who have arrested Russian citizen, Maria Butina in the United States on the basis of fabricated charges, and the need for her early release.”
Butina was jailed on Wednesday. A U.S. judge noted her ties to Russian intelligence which would likely lead to an attempt to flee the United States before her trial date.
Marina Butina is a Russian gun rights advocate who allegedly developed strong ties with the NRA before her arrest. The NRA has remained largely silent on the matter while Rolling Stone notes that the accused spy was building her relationship with the organization for years, even convincing elite members of the gun rights group to visit Moscow.
The Russian citizen is also accused by prosecutors of infiltrating other conservative organizations in order to advance Russian agendas. Butina, during her time in the United States, became a frequent guest on conservative conference circuits.
Butina’s arrest was a part of the Mueller probe into Russian election meddling and possible collusion. Prosecutors believe Butina’s gun rights advocacy may have been a cover and her actual mission was to sway the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.
Despite all the information that is known there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the alleged Russian spy.
If Butina did act as a foreign agent without properly informing the US government she could face time in a US prison.