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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 Accuses US Authorities of Unwarranted Strip Searches of Butina

    © AP Photo / Dana Verkouteren
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    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has alleged that Russian national Mariia Butina, charged with conspiracy to act as a foreign agent in the United States, is being discriminated against in the US prison, having her cell searched, being strip searched herself and denied medical assistance.

    Russian diplomats last visited the detained 29-year-old on Thursday. After talking to Butina, they said they would file a complaint with the US State Department, warning that the "psychological pressure and humiliation must stop."

    The Russian Embassy in the US said in a statement that the US prison authorities had resumed their practice of checking on Butina every 15 minutes at night. "That is how inmates, who are likely to commit suicide, are treated. Maria never gave causes for such concern. She is still fully determined to prove her innocence. It is obvious that it is an attempt to break her will," the press release on Facebook read.

    The litany of irregularities discovered by embassy staff also include strip checks that are carried out after every single visit by her attorneys, diplomats or friends, sometimes as often as three times a day.

    She has also been denied adequate medical assistance after complaining about a worsening case of arthritis. "A swelling on her leg, which resulted from permanently cold temperatures in her cell, keeps getting worse. Maria is only provided with painkillers. Now she has to walk with a limp."

    In violation of all norms, the woman has also been barred from receiving letters in Russian under pretext they might contain "coded messages," although the Embassy argued that prison administration seemed unwilling to "burden itself and look for a translator."

    The Embassy stressed that such "abnormal" treatment of a suspect was becoming more and more intolerable, spurred by hysteria on US social and mainstream media, which remind of a Salem witch hunt.

    The diplomatic mission concluded by saying the Maria’s determination to prove her innocence had only grown, and a fund-raising website would soon be created to pay for her legal defense.

    Butina is a recent American University graduate with a master’s degree in international relations. She was arrested in Washington, DC, on July 15 on charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent. Butina, who has denied the accusations, was denied bail and remains in custody. She faces up to 15 years in jail.

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

    READ MORE: Stranger Tries to File Court Motion in Butina Case on Her Behalf — Lawyer

    Related:

    Butina's Lawyer Plans to Create Foundation to Support Her Release - Reports
    Stranger Tries to File Court Motion in Butina Case on Her Behalf - Lawyer
    Butina Will Not Plead Guilty to Charges Even if Offered Plea Deal - Lawyer
    US Senate Intel Committee Authorizes Release of Butina Testimony
    Tags:
    unwarranted search, conditions, jail, pressure, Russian embassy in US, Maria Butina, United States
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