Political News

Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina seeks dismissal of charges

Posted November 15, 2018 3:52 p.m. EST

— Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina asked a federal judge on Thursday to throw out the criminal case against her.

Butina, 30, was charged in July with two counts related to her activities in the US, which prosecutors allege broke federal law because she was secretly acting on behalf of the Kremlin and was working at the direction of a senior Russian government official. She has pleaded not guilty.

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"The government contends Maria is a Kremlin agent because she shared her memorable American happenings and naïve, youthful optimism for better Russian-American relations with others, including an individual claimed to be 'Russian Official,' who did not employ her, pay her, request her to pursue better relations between the two countries, or exert any control over her daily activities," Butina's lawyers wrote in their 28-page request to Judge Tanya Chutkan of the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

In grandiose language, Butina's lawyers argued that the evidence against her is so weak that if that conduct is criminal, "scores of people are unknowingly violating this statute" against acting as an agent for a foreign government without informing the Justice Department.

If Chutkan doesn't throw out the full two-count indictment, Butina's lawyers want the judge to force prosecutors to drop one of the charges. They say the prosecutors violated the Double Jeopardy Clause of the US Constitution by charging Butina with two crimes for the same conduct.

Butina has been in an Alexandria, Virginia, jail since her arrest in July.