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Lawyer of Russian woman arrested in US calls case against her ‘very weak’

Robert Neil Driscoll said the allegation that Maria Butina is a spy is not supported by her bahavior
Maria Butina AP Photo
Maria Butina
© AP Photo

WASHINGTON, July 21. /TASS/. The case of the Russian citizen Maria Butina, whom the US authorities have arrested on charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, is very weak, attorney Robert Neil Driscoll told TASS on Friday.

When TASS asked him if the case could be viewed as attempt of the American ‘deep state’ to disrupt President Donald Trump’s efforts to normalize the relations with Russia, Driscoll gave a cautious answer.

"I can't tell from where I sit what it is motivating the Government," he said. "All I can tell is that the case against Maria Butina, from what I’ve seen, is very weak."

"I’m not sure what the motives of the prosecutors are," Driscoll went on. "But the allegation, essentially, is that she is a spy, to me is not supported by her behavior, particularly given the amount of time she’s under surveillance."

"And from what I’ve seen and what the Government alleged, all she did wrong was establish a channel of communication," Driscoll said. "I don’t see how establishing a channel of communication is wrong. That’s no different than meeting people."

"The case doesn’t make any sense," he said. "She didn’t do anything that the spy would do."

Along with it, Driscoll declined to assess the chances for a success, saying this is always rather difficult to do at the beginning.

Also, he said the investigators had not yet familiarized Butina’s defense with the whole set of evidence, which according to the US authorities pointed at her unacceptable activities.

American lawyers representing the arrested Russian citizen Maria Butina, whom the US security services charge with acting as an unregistered foreign agent, are not sure if they will appeal a resolution of the District Court for the District of Columbia to keep Butina in custody, Driscoll added.

His words suggested that they were not going to appeal the court’s ruling immediately.

"I’m not sure if we’ll appeal or not," Driscoll said. "We might, we might not. But we might revisit the issue at some point if it’s warranted. […] I don’t want to say when."

During court hearings on Wednesday, Judge Deborah Robinson to a decision to prolong Butina’s term of custody. While Driscoll insisted on his client’s release on parole, the attorney for the District of Columbia Eric Kenerson claimed Butina might escape from the US and that is why she should be kept in custody while the trial is underway.

Butina faces the charges of conducting activities in the interests of a foreign without registration at the Department of Justice as a foreign agent.

Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokesperson said earlier this week the US claims against Butina were too far-fetched did not hold water.