More details emerge about suspected Russian agent | WORLD
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More details emerge about suspected Russian agent

Maria Butina speaks to a rally supporting handgun legalization in Moscow in 2013. Associated Press

More details emerge about suspected Russian agent

A federal magistrate judge has ruled that a 29-year-old Russian gun-rights activist accused of being a covert agent must remain in jail ahead of her trial. Maria Butina should be detained as “an extreme flight risk,” prosecutors argued Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. They said in court papers that she was in contact with Kremlin operatives and used sex and deception to connect with U.S. political organizations and gather intelligence. Federal authorities arrested Butina on Sunday, charging her with conspiracy to act as an unregistered Russian agent. Prosecutors suggest Butina used her gun-lobbying efforts to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and the Republican Party, both during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

In her early 20s, Butina founded a small chain of furniture stores in her remote Siberian hometown. She then left for Moscow, where she befriended a well-placed Russian senator and founded a Russian gun-rights group. Butina came to the United States in 2014, where she traveled to gun shows and events from the Freedomfest in Las Vegas to an NRA meeting in Indianapolis, according to her own social media posts. Her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, has denied his client is an agent of the Russian Federation and called the allegations “overblown.”

Les Sillars

Les is a WORLD Radio correspondent and commentator. He previously spent two decades as WORLD Magazine’s Mailbag editor. Les directs the journalism program at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va.

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