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How an Alleged Russian Spy Gained Access to Elite Conservative Circles

How an Alleged Russian Spy Gained Access to Elite Conservative Circles”

"The defendant's covert influence campaign involved substantial planning, global coordination, and preparation", prosecutors wrote.

The FBI's searches of her electronic devices revealed that Butina was "in contact with officials believed to be Russian intelligence operatives", prosecutors said. "We do not have an extradition treaty with Russian Federation".

In a new court filing, the Federal Bureau of Investigation alleges that Butina during her time in the United States cohabitated with an unidentified 56-year-old man as part of her cover while conducting her work in the United States.

"She's not a flight risk", Robert Neil Driscoll said at the hearing.

The wider geopolitical context involving the United States and Russian Federation shouldn't have any bearing on Butina's specific situation, he argued.

"But this relationship does not represent a strong tie to the United States because Butina appears to treat it as simply a necessary aspect of her activities".

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Butina pleaded not guilty to two criminal charges of conspiring to act as a foreign agent without registering, and acting as a foreign agent.

Prosecutors outlined in a court document seeking her continued detention how she had maintained a web of people to support her mission in the United States, and was in touch with employees of the Russian FSB, the spy agency that succeeded the KGB. Butina and the official later attended both the 2016 and 2017 National Prayer Breakfasts, as well as the NRA's national convention, where Torshin is a life member. Intelligence officers often use an "official cover" as employees of their home country's foreign ministry.

As Butina began making more contacts with leaders of the National Rifle Association and the Republican party, she landed on the radar of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who started tracking her movements to determine what she was doing in the United States, according to officials familiar with the case. "She poses with toy pistols while you are being published with real ones".

Maria Butina allegedly offered to have sex with an unnamed American in exchange for a job, according to prosecutors. "What can I say!"

"The filing of this latest complaint is just further evidence of how far-reaching and carefully planned Russia's assault on American democracy has been", said a former USA official with knowledge of the Russian Federation investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing probe.

Zakharova added that the Russian authorities were looking to secure access to her.

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The FBI said it has determined that even though Butina had a personal relationship with someone described in court papers as Person 1 - identified by NPR as political fundraiser Paul Erickson - she "offered an individual other than Person 1 sex in exchange for a position with a special interest organization".

The organization is not identified in the court documents.

Butina has been acquainted with Erickson since at least 2013, and they continued to work closely together through their ties to the National Rifle Association.

He cited reports that the alleged spy showed up at a Nevada event for then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, and "got him on record" during a Q & A session regarding sanctions.

Erickson did not return several calls from Reuters seeking comment.

The charges against Butina were made public just hours after President Donald Trump appeared to accept assurances from Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country did not try to influence the 2016 election.

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Meanwhile, people began returning to work Monday at the Annapolis building that includes the Capital Gazette's offices. He also said the paper "stepped up security" years ago and posted the suspect's photo around the office.

Her activities ramped up after she moved to the USA capital on a student visa in 2016, attending American University graduate school while she lived with Erickson.



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