08:59 GMT +310 December 2018
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    Russian activist Mariia Butina was arrested Sunday, July 15 by the FBI on charges of being an unregistered agent.

    Judge Rejects Maria Butina's Request to Leave Solitary Confinement - Court Doc

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    US Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ordered that Russian national Mariia Butina, accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent on behalf of Moscow, remain in solitary confinement ahead of her trial, court documents revealed on Wednesday.

    The filing cites case law which dictates that a "prison's internal security is peculiarly a matter normally left to the discretion of prison administrators."

    Solitary confinement, or as it is called in legal circles, administrative segregation, is considered within the realm of prison security. It is also considered a practice that can amount to torture, according to United Nations experts.

    Butina sat in solitary following her arrest in July for 67 days despite pleas from her lawyer and Russian Embassy officials. Recently, her administrative segregation was reimposed.

    The woman's defense did not offer the court "substantial evidence… to indicate that the officials have exaggerated their response" in throwing Butina back in solitary, the court filing states.

    "We've voiced a decisive protest against the toughening the confinement regime of the Russian citizen under far-fetched politically motivated reasons. She already spend (sic) 67 days in complete isolation, which exceeded the limits defined by the so-called Mandela Rules (standard minimum UN rules for the treatment of prisoners)," the Russian Embassy wrote in a Tuesday press release. 

    "We consider the actions of the U.S. side as an attempt to impose pressure and break the will of our fellow citizen. This cannot but affect her preparation for the court session scheduled for December 19," the embassy said, adding that it has lodged a complaint with the US State Department.

    Since Butina's arrest, the government prosecutors' case against the young woman has taken some blows. The government was forced to walk back its allegation that Butina had traded sex for a position at a special interest organization — a claim that was widely trumpeted, uncritically, in US media.

    "It took me five minutes to review the evidence and tell they were joking," Chutkan told the government of the material supporting their rescinded charge, Sputnik News heard in court at the time. "It was apparent on its face," she said, adding that she was "concerned" and "dismayed" that “someone at the US Attorney’s Office or at the Department of Justice could look at those exchanges and conclude they were serious.”

    In September, Chutkan imposed a gag order on the case, effectively forbidding Butina's lawyer from advocating on his client's behalf in the media.

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