Alleged Russian spy not a flight risk, says attorney
Mariia Butina, the 29-year-old Russian gun enthusiast and alleged spy who wanted to set up back channels between her government and the Republican Party and Trump campaign, spoke little at her first court appearance Monday.
But her attorney, Robert Driscoll, asked the federal judge to not keep her in jail any longer.. She’s known for nine months she could face a court at some time, especially after the FBI raided her house three months ago, Driscoll said, according to a transcript released Tuesday.
Mariia Butina, also known as Maria, told the judge her name, and Driscoll answered all other questions. The hearing lasted only 13 minutes, and Judge Deborah Robinson of the US District Court for the District of Columbia decided on the spot that Butina should be detained for three days, until at least her next court appearance.
Prosecutors feared she would flee the area, according to a transcript released Tuesday.
“She has been publicly, essentially, in the media, accused of being an agent for the government of Russia,” Driscoll told the judge on Monday. “She testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in closed session — which was not public until today — several months ago, did not flee, cooperated with that request; had her house searched in April by the FBI with 15 agents going through everything she had, did not flee.”
When she was arrested Sunday, Butina spent the night in jail.
She is charged with conspiracy to act as a foreign agent. If found guilty, she could face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Butina has not yet made a plea. Driscoll seemed to suggest Monday that she may fight the charges.
“We’ve been trying to work something out, unsuccessfully, with the government, who seems intent on pressing forward with incarceration, notwithstanding, you know, a pretty weak case,” Driscoll said.