10:05 GMT +322 August 2018
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    In this photo taken on Sunday, April 21, 2013, Maria Butina, leader of a pro-gun organization in Russia, speaks to a crowd during a rally in support of legalizing the possession of handguns in Moscow, Russia

    Arrested Russian Activist Denied Access to Diplomats by US - Russian Embassy

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    Russia's embassy in the United States is demanding consular access to imprisoned Russian national Mariia Butina, 29, who is accused by US authorities of acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

    "As the materials of the court case are classified, the interests of this woman of Russia illustrate her need for a qualified lawyer," the embassy wrote on Facebook, vowing to "continue to defend" her rights with legal advocacy.


    The embassy added that on Wednesday there will be a hearing on Butina's case and that they plan to send a representative. 

    For more than a day, Russian officials have been demanding consular access to Butina. "We are in contact with the US authorities and demand from them consular access to the Russian citizen in order to protect her legitimate rights," the embassy tweeted Monday after the charges against her were announced by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Butina was arrested Sunday on the charge of "Conspiracy to Act as an Agent of a Foreign Government." Tuesday, the DOJ added the additional charge of "Acting as an Agent of a Foreign Government." The original charge was that of conspiracy, but the new one seems to accuse her of materially conducting the act.

    Butina, a longtime advocate of gun rights in Russia and a recent graduate of DC's American University, where she studied international relations, is widely believed to have worked with the US National Rifle Association (NRA). She is accused of conspiring with a Russian official via email and Twitter direct messages as well as emailing a US "person in an effort to develop, maintain, and exploit a relationship," among other similar offenses.

    "The substance of the charge in the Complaint is overblown," her lawyer said in a statement obtained by Sputnik News on Monday. It was a "misuse of the Foreign Agent statute, which is designed to punish covert propaganda, not open and public networking by foreign students," he said.

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    Tags:
    foreign agent, Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), spying, espionage, US Department of Justice, Mariia Butina, United States
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