Maria Butina, accused Russian spy, ordered to stay in jail after feds backtrack on sex-for-access claim

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A federal choose Monday denied a bid by accused Russian spy Maria Butina to be launched on bond and positioned underneath home arrest after federal prosecutors walked again allegations that she provided to commerce intercourse for a place with a particular curiosity group.

U.S. District Choose Tanya Chutkan mentioned there have been “no circumstances, or mixture of circumstances” that may guarantee Butina would make future appearances in court docket if she had been launched.

“There is a very actual threat of flight,” Choose Chutkan mentioned.

Butina, 29, was arrested in July and accused of gathering intelligence on American officers and political organizations. Prosecutors mentioned she used her contacts with the Nationwide Rifle Affiliation and the Nationwide Prayer Breakfast to develop relationships with U.S. politicians and collect data for Russia. In addition they mentioned she used her position as a scholar at American College in Washington as a canopy for her actions.

The sex-for-access accusation towards Butina was primarily based on textual content messages and different data prosecutors mentioned that they had obtained. The textual content trade between Butina and “DK” — a public-relations skilled for a gun rights group Butina had based — involved how Butina would repay him after he took her automotive for an insurance coverage renewal and authorities inspection. She replied, “Intercourse. Thanks a lot. I’ve nothing else in any respect. Not a nickel to my title.”

Butina’s lawyer, Robert Driscoll, has mentioned the trade was “innocuous” and the intercourse remark was meant as a joke.

In a court docket submitting final month, Driscoll mentioned that Butina is a good friend of DK’s spouse and baby and treats him like a brother. He mentioned there was no proof that the 2 ever had intercourse.

“The impression of this inflammatory allegation, which painted Ms. Butina as some kind of Kremlin-trained seductress, or spy-novel honeypot character, buying and selling intercourse for entry and energy, can’t be overstated,” Driscoll mentioned on the time.

In court docket paperwork filed Friday, the federal government admitted its understanding of the textual content dialog in query was “mistaken.”

Nonetheless, prosecutors additionally argued that the opposite proof within the case was ample to maintain Butina in custody transferring ahead.

In court docket Monday, Choose Chutkan reprimanded prosecutors for submitting the messages between Butina and “DK” as proof. She mentioned she was “dismayed” by the error and by the “fairly salacious allegations” made by prosecutors. She mentioned that the joking nature of the textual content message trade was instantly “obvious on their face” when she learn them.

The choose additionally chided Butina’s legal professionals for submitting proof that morning, properly after the deadline to take action. She added that Driscoll had “crossed the road” in making frequent public feedback concerning the case and imposed a gag order on either side.

The following listening to within the case is scheduled for Nov. 13. Butina has pleaded not responsible to the costs of conspiracy and performing as an unregistered international agent for Russia.

The Butina case is being dealt with by the U.S. legal professional for the District of Columbia and never by particular counsel Robert Mueller, who has been main an investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s Republican presidential marketing campaign in addition to Russian interference within the 2016 U.S. election.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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