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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

    US Judge Expected to Set Sentencing Date for Butina at Court Hearing on Thursday

    © AP Photo / Dana Verkouteren
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A US federal judge during a court hearing in Washington on Thursday is expected to set a sentencing date for Russian national Maria Butina, who is facing a maximum prison term of up to five years for alleged conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent.

    US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who will preside over the status conference scheduled for 10:00 a.m. local time (2:00 p.m. GMT), has the option of sentencing Butina to time served in which case she would be free to return to Russia.

    "The hearing is to set a sentencing date", Butina's lawyer Robert Driscoll told Sputnik on Wednesday. Last month, Driscoll told reporters that Butina should be deported right after her sentencing as per the plea agreement reached with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Office in December.

    READ MORE: Butina Mulls Pursuing Teaching Career, Spends Jail Time Reading Books — Priest

    Butina, who initially denied the charges, agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution in exchange for a lighter sentence. According to her plea agreement, she faces a maximum sentence of up to five years.

    The plea document signed by the Russian national said that Butina conspired with a "Russian government official", who had served as the deputy governor to the Russian Central Bank since at least 2015, and at least one other person.

    Driscoll pointed out a day before the hearing that Butina "is doing well under the circumstances and looks forward to returning home as soon as possible".

    In February, Butina said in an interview she was not a Russian spy as evidenced by the fact she did not conceal her activities, which included promoting gun rights and networking with US Christian nationalists and evangelical groups. Butina was arrested in mid-July of last year and imprisoned in Washington, DC before being transferred to a detention center in Alexandria, Virginia.

    READ MORE: Putin Says US Has No Reason to Keep Russian National Butina in Custody

    In November, the Russian Embassy in the United States said US authorities kept Butina in a single cell under solitary confinement for 67 days, exceeding the limit recommended by the Nelson Mandela Rules for the treatment of prisoners.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Butina’s indictment was unjustified because she was not charged with any mission on behalf of the Russian government.


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