13:50 GMT06 April 2020
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    FLIGHT MIAMI-MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Maria Butina, a Russian national deported from the United States after spending 18 months in jail there, said during her flight to Moscow that at that time, she only wanted to reunite with her family and thank those who supported her.

    "I want to be at home. I need some time to adapt. At the moment, I only want to reunite with my family and thank everyone who supported me. I would not make it without my people, citizens of my country," Butina told reporters on board the flight from Miami to Moscow.

    Butina said that the first thing she wanted to do upon her arrival in Moscow is to hug her father who would arrive at the Sheremetyevo Airport to meet her.

    The Russian national did not want to go in detail about her way to a Miami airport from a Tallahassee prison, saying it was a "long journey."

    Butina’s flight is scheduled to arrive in Moscow later on Saturday.

    The Russian national was arrested in mid-2018.

    The law firm that defended her said in a press release late on Friday that contrary to media reports and official statements, Butina’s activities were not related to any election meddling or espionage. Notably, the US government acknowledged that her activities were legal but she had only failed to file a required notice with the authorities that she was unaware of, according to McGlinchey Stafford.

    The firm noted that Butina has pleaded guilty of that failure and had been sentenced for that.

    In the wake of Butina's release, the Russian embassy in the United States noted, in a tweet published late on Friday, that "more and more US politicians understand the absurdity of charges" filed against her.

    The embassy also wished the Russian national to reunite with her family and recover soon.


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