Butina, who was released from a US prison earlier in the day, was arrested on 25 July, 2018 and held in solitary confinement until she signed a plea deal in December charging her with one count of conspiracy to act as a foreign agent without notifying the Attorney General.
"She served a ridiculously long sentence essentially for not filing the right paperwork," Massie said in a Twitter message on Friday. "But now she is free. Sadly, she was jailed to satiate the rampant Russophobia in the US these days. We are better than this."
She served a ridiculously long sentence essentially for not filing the right paperwork. But now she is free. Sadly, she was jailed to satiate the rampant Russophobia in the US these days. We are better than this.https://t.co/ZNkKfD9wnP— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) October 25, 2019
Butina, after her release from the federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida on Friday, was handed over to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) before traveling to the Miami airport where she boarded a Russian Aeroflot plane and departed to Moscow in the early evening, a Sputnik correspondent reported.
Her flight, SU-111, is scheduled to land at Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport at around noon local time on Saturday. Butina's lawyer Robert Driscoll told Sputnik earlier this week that two US ICE officers would accompany her all the way back to Moscow.
The initial charges against Butina carried a maximum sentence of five years in prison but in April, despite her defense lawyer requesting time served, a US court sentenced Butina to 18 months in prison. In June, however, her sentence was reduced slightly due to good behavior.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has called Butina's sentence a disgrace of the US judicial system and accused the US court of carrying out a political order. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Butina’s indictment is unjustified because she was not tasked to perform any mission on behalf of the Russian government.