Russian Federation demands U.S. release 'spy', calls charges false

Maria Butina, the Russian citizen accused of attempting to infiltrate USA political organizations, received financial support from a Russian billionaire with ties to US energy and technology firms, according to a report Sunday.

Prosecutors say Butina engaged in a years-long campaign as a covert agent for the Kremlin in an attempt to "advance the interests of her home country".

"The defendant's covert influence campaign involved substantial planning, worldwide coordination and preparation", prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

Pompeo and Lavrov also discussed "the need for Russian Federation to provide equal diplomatic access to the United States, at a level that is fair and reciprocal". The federal case has added to a growing picture of undisclosed foreign attempts to lobby in the USA and alleged Russian influence in the political system. "I would like to kindly ask you, Mr. Lhamon, to take our concern into account and to take whatever measures you consider best so as to defend the rights and main freedoms of Russian citizen Maria Butina", says the letter posted on the Russian human rights council on Saturday.

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Russian Federation has been steadily beating the drum on Butina's behalf. A tweet by the foreign ministry called on supporters to add a photo of Butina to their Twitter avatars.

In court, the Russian has not admitted the charges against her.

She was charged this week in Washington of acting illegally as an unregistered agent for the Russian government while she lived in Washington over the past three years with her boyfriend, a veteran Republican operative.

The charges against Butina came after she gained the attention of lawmakers investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and in April, she sat for eight hours of testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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