Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke out against what he felt was unfair treatment of his admitted spy, Maria Butina.
“It’s an outrage,” Putin told reporters, speaking in Beijing, Reuters reported. She has been in US custody since her arrest last summer and faces deportation after serving her prison time.
“It’s not clear what she was convicted of or what crime she committed.”
“I think it’s a prime example of ‘saving face.’ They arrested her and put the girl in jail. But there was nothing on her, so in order not to look totally stupid they… fixed her up with an 18-month sentence to show that she was guilty of something,” he told reporters in Beijing.
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“Butina, 30, was accused of engaging in a years-long campaign to court politically connected Americans and infiltrate political organizations, like the National Rifle Association, on behalf of the Kremlin. She was indicted and arrested in July and pleaded guilty in December to acting as a foreign agent for Russia without registering in the United States.”
On Friday the Siberian native, her voice breaking with emotion, begged the judge for mercy and her defence lawyers said she had been overly punished.
“My reputation is ruined, both here in the United States and abroad,” she said, asking for “a chance to go home and restart my life”, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
“In the sentencing, Chutkan acknowledged that Butina, who attended graduate school in Washington, was a “legitimate” and “hardworking” student. But the judge also said that while studying at American University, Butina sought to collect information about U.S. political figures under the direction of a Russian official at a time when the Kremlin was trying to undermine the American political system. ”
The Judge ended up sentencing Butina 18 months and then she is to be deported.