Prosecutors: Butina is flight risk, should stay in jail until trial

He and the Central Bank didn't respond to requests for comment about Butina's arrest.

In October 2016, "U.S. Person 1" told Butina in an email that he had "been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key "Political Party 1" leaders through, of all conduits, the "Gun Rights Organization.'" Helson concluded that this email showed the American's "involvement in Butina's efforts to establish a 'back channel" communication for representatives of the Government of Russian Federation".

The affidavit also describes a separate email sent in October 2016 by "U.S. Person I", seemingly referring to Butina's efforts to cozy up to the GOP, which the affidavit refers to as "POLITICAL PARTY 1".

She was due to appear in a Washington federal court Wednesday.

Prosecutors outlined in a court document seeking her continued detention how she had maintained a web of people to support her mission in the U.S., and was in touch with employees of the Russian FSB, the spy agency that succeeded the KGB.

Before the hearing on Wednesday, the government's attorneys cited "the nature of the charges, her history of deceptive conduct, the potential sentence she faces, the strong evidence of guilt, extensive foreign connections and her lack of any meaningful ties to the United States".

The indictment accuses Butina of conspiring with the unnamed "Russian official" to "infiltrate organizations active in American politics in an effort to advance the interests of the Russian federation".

Maria Butina was arrested in Washington on Sunday and appeared in court in the U.S. capital on Monday, the Justice Department said in a statement.

The Russian official is believed to be Alexander Torshin, deputy head of the Russian Central Bank and a target of USA sanctions since April.

An alleged Russian spy is said to have exchanged sex for a position within a special interest organisation. That individual appears to fit the profile of Alexander Torshin, a former senator and Russian central banker who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department earlier this year. "What can I say!"

If Butina were permitted to remain at liberty, he warned, the Russian government could get her out of the country and the US government might have no way to guarantee that she would appear.

But in court papers, prosecutors said Butina's university enrollment was a cover for her covert duties and that she suggested, falsely, on her visa application that she was no longer employed by the Russian official at the time she applied for a student visa.

U.S. Person 1, or Erickson, has not been charged with any crimes, which is sometimes an indication that they are cooperating with an investigation.

The Butina case was not brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election.

Other photos show the trio alongside David Keene, who formerly served as NRA president and chairman of the American Conservative Union, a group best known for organizing the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which Butina has reportedly attended as a VIP.

Butina's attorney, Robert Driscoll, has argued that Butina does not constitute a flight risk and should therefore not remain in jail ahead of a trial.

  • Rogelio Becker