NRA-Affiliated Woman Charged With Spying For Russia

The Guardian reports:

A Washington-based pro-gun activist affiliated with the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been charged with spying in the US for Russia. Maria Butina was charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian federation within the US without prior notification to the attorney general.

Butina, 29, was arrested on Sunday and appeared before a magistrate in Washington on Monday, according to the US justice department. She is known as a protege of Alexander Torshin, a Russian former state banker, who met Donald Trump Jr for dinner at the NRA’s 2016 convention. Torshin was placed under sanction by the US in April this year.

From the Department of Justice:

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, from as early as 2015 and continuing through at least February 2017, Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who was previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and later became a top official at the Russian Central Bank. This Russian official was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control in April 2018.

The court filings detail the Russian official’s and Butina’s efforts for Butina to act as an agent of Russia inside the United States by developing relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation.

The filings also describe certain actions taken by Butina to further this effort during multiple visits from Russia and, later, when she entered and resided in the United States on a student visa. The filings allege that she undertook her activities without officially disclosing the fact that she was acting as an agent of Russian government, as required by law.