Months of torture-like conditions made Butina plead guilty to get home sooner – Lavrov

Months of torture-like conditions made Butina plead guilty to get home sooner – Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has explained why he thinks gun activist Maria Butina, jailed in the US, has made a deal with prosecutors: she wants to escape the torture-like conditions she is being kept in.

Speaking to the media in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, Lavrov said US prosecutors were deliberately trying to break Butina.

“I can understand that woman, she is being kept in the harshest conditions, for many many months now she has been subjected to a kind of torture: they would make her go for walks at night, forcibly interrupting her sleep, place her in single confinement, and many other things,” Lavrov said.

I have reasons to believe the conditions that have been created for her are intended to break her will and make her confess to something she likely didn't do.

Unnecessarily harsh treatment continued as recently as on Thursday, after Butina's plea deal. She was being kept in conditions “normally reserved for dangerous repeat offenders,” Lavrov said.

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Butina likely struck the plea deal – confessing to the least of the charges against her in order to get the rest waived – so she can get back to her home country as soon as possible, Lavrov said. This way, she only faces a five-year prison term and extradition to Russia. Lavrov has pledged the foreign ministry's help in facilitating her return.

Butina, a pro-gun rights activist who has been advocating making Russian firearm laws more similar to American ones, got caught in the middle of the hunt for “Russian agents” in the wake of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential win. Living in the US on a student visa, she was arrested in mid-July and accused of secretly working for the Russian government to make inroads with the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association. Moscow has rebuffed any notion of a connection to her.

Russian diplomats have been keeping in touch with Butina in jail, and have said her conditions are “slightly below torture.” She has been subjected to unwarranted and humiliating strip searches, sleep-deprived and denied proper medical care.

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