Judge Orders Accused Russian Spy to Stay Behind Bars

Maria Butina attends a rally at Krasnopresnenskaya Zastava Square in support of legalizing the possession of handguns

It is not mentioned in the indictment, but Helson's affidavit cited a 2015 email in which Butina told "U.S. Person 1" that "Political Party 1 " would likely obtain control over the U.S. government after the 2016 elections, that the party had a central role in the "Gun Rights Organization" and that the unnamed gun organization was "the largest sponsor of the elections to the U.S. congress, as well as a spnosor of the CPAC conference", an annual conservative political gathering.

An FBI affidavit submitted along with a criminal complaint against Butina last week said she and US Person 1 worked together to arrange introductions to other Americans who are influential in US politics, "including an organization promoting gun rights ... for the objective of advancing the agenda of the Russian Federation".

They also spoke on January 20, 2017 when Butina sent the official a photo of her near the US Capitol on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated as president.

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday asked a judge to deny bail to Maria Butina, the 29-year-old Russian national arrested in Washington this weekend and charged with conspiring to influence American politics while covertly serving as an agent of the Russian government.

In court, prosecutors showed a photo of Butina meeting an alleged Russian intelligence operative at a restaurant in Washington.

The FBI uncovered evidence that Butina appeared to be "in contact with officials believed to be Russian intelligence operatives" during her time in the United States, according to the US.

However, the description of the Russian official closely matches that of Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia's Central Bank who was sanctioned in April.

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Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Butina on Sunday as she was apparently preparing to move to South Dakota.

Moreover, they wrote, the lease on her apartment is up at the end of July and she had boxes packed, apparently with the intention to move.

The gun rights group was not identified.

Butina used a United States citizen, who is not named by prosecutors but matches the description of political operative Paul Erickson, to gain access to an extensive network of Americans in a position to influence political activities in the country, prosecutors said. "Further, in papers seized by the FBI, Butina complained about living with U.S. Person 1 and expressed disdain for continuing to cohabitate with U.S. Person 1".

Trump has been accused of failing to stand up to the Russian leader over alleged meddling in the 2016 election in the United States, with many USA critics calling him a "traitor". Her personal ties, "save for those United States persons she attempted to exploit and influence", are to Russian Federation, according to the government court filing.

The 29-year-old former American University graduate student was set to appear for a preliminary hearing in the US District Court for the District of Columbia this afternoon.

Alexander Torshin (center). AP Erickson first invited scrutiny past year, when The New York Times reported that he emailed Trump campaign aide Rick Dearborn in May 2016, with the subject line "Kremlin Connection", telling him that he could arrange a backdoor meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. This person was "instrumental in aiding her covert influence operation, despite knowing its connections to the Russian Official". Authorities added that Butina has ties to wealthy businessmen in the Russian oligarchy.

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