Maria Butina Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison For Conspiracy Against U.S.

The Russian agent pleaded guilty in 2018 to acting as a spy for the Kremlin.

Russian gun rights activist Maria Butina, who pleaded guilty in December 2018 to conspiring against the U.S. by acting as an agent of the Kremlin, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Friday, The Associated Press reported.

Butina has been behind bars since her arrest last July, and will receive credit for the nine months she has served. She is also set to be deported after serving out the remainder of her time, per an order from U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

The 30-year-old spy had ties to the National Rifle Association and attempted to influence GOP politics in 2016 by infiltrating conservative groups.

CNN reported that Chutkan described Butina’s work as “dangerous,” agreeing with a federal sentencing recommendation and pointing out that she carried out her mission as Russia attempted to meddle in the election.

“The conduct was sophisticated and penetrated deep into political organizations,” Chutkan said.

According to NBC News, Butina insisted that rather than engaging in illegal activity, her hope in America was to better its relations with Russia.

“I came here to better my life to get a degree,” she said, referring to her time as a graduate student at American University. “I wished to mend relations while building my resume. It was for these actions and my own ignorance that I’m here.”

However, Chutkan threw cold water on Butina’s story, contending that her actions were calculated.

“This was no simple misunderstanding by an overeager foreign student,” the judge said.

ABC News reported that while Chutkan recognized Butina’s “absolute sincerity and remorse,” she argued she was “seeking to collect information about individuals and organizations that could be helpful to the Russia government.”

This has been updated throughout.

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