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10 Dec, 2018 16:28

‘Parties resolved the matter’: Court documents in ‘foreign agent’ Butina case suggest deal made

‘Parties resolved the matter’: Court documents in ‘foreign agent’ Butina case suggest deal made

Maria Butina, a Russian national detained in the US and accused of failing to register as a foreign lobbyist under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), appears to have reached a deal with prosecutors.

Documents entered on Monday request that a federal judge schedule a hearing this week so Butina can change her not guilty plea which she entered in July. There is still no indication what Butina intends to plead guilty to.

Butina's accusations stem from her rubbing shoulders with Republican operatives and gun-rights advocates in the US. Prosecutors initially attempted to paint Butina as a cold-blooded seductress who traded sex for influence in the corridors of power, but later retracted these more salacious allegations.

Butina denies the charges, and the Russian government has complained about her detention to the US State Department.

Butina’s father Valery told RT that he has “no information” about any deal between his daughter and the US prosecutors. Media reports on it are nothing but “speculations” at the moment, he said.

“Maria has no intention to wrongfully accuse anybody. She also has no intention to acknowledged violations she didn’t commit.”

Valery also rejected claims that his daughter has been given US citizenship as “figments of imagination and lies” on the part of the press.

However, he acknowledged that Maria was running out of money to fund her legal team, calling the situation “critical” and urging support.

The man also denounced his daughter’s harsh detention conditions: she was kept in solitary confinement for almost three months. “It had a negative impact on her mental and physical condition. It’s difficult to say how long an ordinary person can endure such torture.”

A team from the Russian Embassy in Washington DC has been visiting Butina in jail in Virginia, where she is being held in solitary confinement. The team accused her jailers of trying to “break her will” with strip searches, denial of medication, and other forms of “psychological pressure and humiliation.”

Butina will now enter her new plea as early as Tuesday, according to documents filed on Monday.

Human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik told RT that this is most likely a “political case,” and that the 30-year-old Russian is being used as a “pawn” to sabotage US-Russia relations.

“If she had filed the piece of paper with the Attorney General’s office, everything she did was  legal,” defense attorney Robert Driscoll told RT. “This is more of a registration type of crime that an espionage crime, and yet the media and the government to some extent are treating it as an espionage crime.”

Before news of Butina’s apparent intention to plead guilty to something, Kovalic foresaw the US dropping her charges after a prolonged detention. Her own defense lawyers and the prosecution team released a statement last month saying they “remain optimistic about a pretrial resolution.”

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