A U.S. judge ordered accused Russian agent Maria Butina jailed on Wednesday pending trial after federal prosecutors warned that she has ties to Russian intelligence and was a flight risk.
During a hearing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, prosecutors showed a photo of Butina meeting an alleged Russian intelligence operative at a Washington restaurant.
The 29-year-old former American University graduate student wore an orange prison jumpsuit in court and showed no emotion as her lawyer entered a not-guilty plea. Butina’s next court appearance was scheduled for July 24.
The government also displayed a copy of a handwritten note uncovered by the FBI at Butina’s apartment asking how to respond to an employment offer from a Russian intelligence agency, as well as a photo of her standing in front of the U.S. Capitol on the day Donald Trump was sworn in as president 18 months ago.
“We do not believe she was here ... just to attend American University,” said Erik Michael Kenerson, the lead prosecutor, adding that Butina was engaged in a “covert influence campaign.”
The case coincides with an investigation by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller into whether members of Trump’s 2016 election campaign coordinated with Russian officials. Butina’s case, however, is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the National Security Division of the Justice Department.
Moscow denies U.S. allegations it interfered in the election and Trump denies any campaign collusion.
© 2023 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.