13:44 GMT04 March 2021
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    Putin's 2018 Year-End Press Conference (11)

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday there was no reason for keeping Russian citizen Maria Butina, accused of conspiracy to influence Washington's relations with Moscow, in US custody.

    "I don’t understand what she could have pleaded guilty to because she was not there to fulfil any government tasks, I assure you, counter to whatever she was coerced to say under threat of a 12-15 year jail sentence. She and her attorney are fighting to get her out of prison. There was no reason to put her in there, in the first place", he told reporters at his annual press conference.

    READ MORE: US Forced Butina to Admit Charges, Creating Intolerable Conditions — Moscow

    Putin suggested the US judiciary was pushing the case through to "save its face," adding that Russia would keep an eye on the legal battle to see what happens next and assist Butina if possible.

    Butina pleaded guilty last Thursday in front of a US federal judge to one count of conspiracy to act as a foreign agent. Initial charges against her carried a prison sentenced of up to 15 years, but at the moment she may be sentenced to five years and eventually deported to Russia. The next hearing on the case is set for February.

    Putin's 2018 Year-End Press Conference (11)


    Russian Embassy Says Called on US Prison for Humane Treatment of Butina
    US Prosecutors Ask Court to Maintain Gag Order in Butina Case - Filing
    US Forced Butina to Admit Charges, Creating Intolerable Conditions - Moscow
    Sealed US Court Files Suggest Butina May Testify in Another Case - Reports
    Lavrov: Russia's Maria Butina Under Harsh Conditions, Tortured by US Authorities
    Maria Butina, Vladimir Putin, Russia, US
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