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    This courtroom sketch depicts Maria Butina, in orange suit, a 29-year-old gun-rights activist suspected of being a covert Russian agent, listening to her attorney Robert Driscoll, standing, as he speaks to Judge Deborah Robinson, left, during a hearing in federal court in Washington, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Kenerson, bottom left, and co-defense attorney's Alfred Carry, right, listen. Prosecutors say Butina was likely in contact with Kremlin operatives while living in the United States. And prosecutors also are accusing her of using sex and deception to forge influential connections

    Russian Embassy: Butina Allowed Phone Calls First Time Since Start of Detention

    © AP Photo / Dana Verkouteren
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    Maria Butina, in US custody on charges of acting as an agent of a foreign government, has been allowed to make phone calls for the first time since her arrest on July 15, the Russian Embassy in DC said.

    "She has been in jail for 19 days on trumped-up charges," the statement said. "She has been finally allowed to make phone calls. But she cannot contact her parents, the prison administration cites some ‘technical difficulties.’ We are looking into this."

    Russian Embassy staffers have been regularly visiting the 29-year-old. They last met Butina on August 2. The Embassy promised to continue providing the Russian national with consular and any other support she might need.

    Maria Butina, a recent American University graduate with a Master’s Degree in International Relations, was arrested in Washington DC on charges of conspiracy and acting as an agent of a foreign government, which she denied.

    She is being held in jail without bond until trial. Russia has strongly criticized the US government for detaining her and called the accusations "clearly groundless."

    The attorney for Maria Butina, Robert Driscoll said Wednesday the defense team was open to a plea bargain with the US prosecutors. Driscoll told CNN they would look into such an offer but added she would never plead guilty to the charges because they were not truthful.

    Russia has strongly criticized the US government for detaining Butina and characterized the charges against her as "clearly groundless."

    US authorities arrested Butina on July 15 and has been charged with engaging in a conspiracy against the US and failing to register as an agent of a foreign government. Butina will remain in custody until the end of the trial. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison.

    Related:

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    Detained Russian National Butina Accuses Washington of Political Persecution
    Tags:
    phone calls, detention, Russian Embassy in Washington DC, Maria Butina, United States
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