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Russian agent Maria Butina, U.S. prosecutors ask judge for her deportation

Russian agent Maria Butina, U.S. prosecutors ask judge for her deportation
Maria Butina attends a Moscow rally in support of legalizing the possession of handguns on April 23, 2013. (Anton Novoderezhkin / Zuma Press / TNS)

Attorneys for Maria Butina and U.S. prosecutors have jointly asked a federal judge to order the gun-rights activist deported to her native Russia after she is sentenced on April 26 for conspiring with a senior Russian official to infiltrate conservative American groups as an undeclared agent for the Kremlin.

Butina has sought removal since pleading guilty in December in a deal with prosecutors, agreeing to cooperate with the investigation into her efforts on behalf of the Russian government to forge ties with the National Rifle Assn. and other U.S. conservative groups leading up to the 2016 elections.

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U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Thursday set a sentencing date, after Assistant U.S. Atty. Erik Kenerson said prosecutors were ready.

“The United States of America ... and defendant [Maria Butina], respectfully request that the Court sign the attached proposed Order of Judicial Removal on the day it sentences the defendant,” both sides said in the Friday court filing. Butina said she would not contest her deportation after pleading guilty to a felony while in the United States on a student visa.

Butina, 30, earlier in the case admitted to working at the direction of Alexander Torshin, a Russian former government official, and with an American political operative to forge connections with NRA officials, conservative leaders and 2016 presidential candidates, including Donald Trump.

In her plea deal, Butina said she began to act on behalf of the Russian government in 2015 and continued her work after moving to the United States to attend graduate school at American University in 2016.

Butina has been in custody since being charged in July, and Chutkan has said the time Butina has served would likely be a substantial portion of whatever sentence she faces.

Butina’s offense carries a five-year maximum penalty. But prosecutors agreed that the defense could argue for a guideline range of zero to six months and promised to recommend leniency if she cooperated fully.

Spencer S. Hsu writes for the Washington Post.

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