The father of Maria Butina, a Russian national, detained in the US on charges of acting as a foreign agent in addition to conspiring to be one, insists that his daughter has done nothing wrong and had spent most of her time in the US studying.
"All she did was study, working very hard on a daily basis. Naturally, the pressure was high because English is not her native language, full of unfamiliar terms. What I’m saying is that she was studying almost round-the-clock,” Valery Butin told Rossiya-1 television.
He added that the last time he spoke with Maria was on July 14, a day before she was arrested.
“She had to meet and contact many people just as her future profession calls for. Well, it looks like some people in some places circles got interested. She never did anything illegal, I can vouch for that,” Valery Butin emphasized.
“But she is still holding out as she knows she is innocent,” the official said.
In Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Butina’s detention just ahead of the Russian-US summit in Helsinki was a clear attempt to minimize the positive outcome of that meeting.
“It seems that the US FBI, instead of dealing with its basic duties to combat crime, is carrying out a plainly political order," Zakharova said.
Maria Butina, 29, is a student from Russia who has recently graduated from American University in Washington DC with a Master’s Degree in International Relations.
Last Sunday, US authorities arrested and charged her with conspiracy to act and acting as a foreign agent.
On Wednesday, Butina denied both charges in federal court in Washington but was remanded in custody without bail, as she is considered a flight risk.
If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in jail.
Butina, a longtime advocate of gun rights in Russia, is believed to have worked with the US National Rifle Association (NRA).