"The government respectfully requests that the Court direct that the Order remain in place during the pendency of this case," the document said on Wednesday.
Prosecutors outlined three reasons to continue the gag order. They noted that "until defendant has been sentenced, not all charges have been dismissed."
Also, prosecutors pointed out, "prior to sentencing, the standard for the defendant to withdraw her guilty plea is lower than after sentencing." Butina's legal counsel said that her cooperation with US authorities may lead to other arrests, they noted in the filing. "Those potential defendants have the same right to a fair trial that Ms. Butina does," they said.
The legal counsels noted that "restraint of speech is disfavored under the First Amendment and presumptively unconstitutional."
Butina pleaded guilty last Thursday in front of a US federal judge to one count of conspiracy to act as a foreign agent. Initial charges against her carried a prison sentenced of up to 15 years. The next hearing is set for February 13. She may be sentenced to five years and eventually deported to Russia.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said earlier on Wednesday that the US authorities have forced Russian national Maria Butina to put her signature under ridiculous charges, creating intolerable conditions of detention and threatening her with a long prison term.
Meanwhile, the Daily Beast news outlet has reported that the US Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., also filed a sealed court motion asking for a secret transportation of Russian national Maria Butina, detained in the United States, so that she could testify in an unspecified "pending criminal investigation."
The Russian national originally pleaded not guilty to charges of acting as a foreign agent and conspiracy to act as an agent of Russia in the United States. The Russian Foreign Ministry has said the charges against Butina were groundless and trumped-up and called her ongoing detention unacceptable.