US Government Fears for Maria Butina’s Safety – Asks for Protection
Maria Butina, who this week pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to act as a foreign agent, has also admitted in federal court that she made contacts with GOP officials and the National Rifle Association in an attempt to influence the U.S. political system. The orders to do so, she admitted, came from Russia.
As a part of her plea deal, Butina has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors on a number of matters. Now it appears that the US Government fears that her cooperation may put her safety in jeopardy.
According to a disclosure, which briefly appeared on the public court docket for her case, before it was removed and placed under seal, the prosecutors in the case made an interesting request. They asked the court to ensure Butina’s safety as she is transported from her jail cell in Alexandria, Virgina to the government facilities where she will be meeting with prosecutors as part of her cooperation.
“Although the fact of defendant Butina’s cooperation is now public, the details of her transportation to and from the jail are not,” DOJ attorneys wrote in the now-sealed filing. “Once disclosed, such information could be used by individuals or entities who might seek to harm or intimidate the defendant to prevent her from continuing to cooperate with law enforcement.”
According to the filing, Butina may have to appear before a federal grand jury in Washington D.C. and meet with prosecutors both in Alexandria and D.C. The filing did not go into detail as to what these possible threats were that concerned the government, and Butina’s legal team did not object to the request that more than one law enforcement official would accompany her during all such travel related to her cooperation.
Whether this is a perceived threat coming from the Kremlin or Russian nationals, or one that may be coming domestically, the Government has not elaborated.