BARNAUL, April 24. /TASS/. The family of Maria Butina, a Russian citizen arrested in US on charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, fears that she might be sentenced to a longer term than previously expected following a statement from a former FBI agent, her father Valery Butin told TASS on Wednesday.
The sentencing of Butina, who has already spent nine months behind bars, is scheduled for April 26. Her attorneys expected Judge Tanya Chutkan to sentence the Russian woman to a prison term that does not exceed the time she had already spent in prison.
Last week, the US prosecution has recommended to sentence Butina to 18 months behind bars, but later requested the court to consider the expert statement by former FBI agent Robert Anderson, who claimed that Butina "acted on behalf of the Russian Federation." The Russian citizen’s defense team asked the court to disregard the statement.
"There are fears that if the judge takes the [US prosecutors’] stance into account, the prison term may be increased from the 18 months currently recommended to five years. It is yet unclear how the court will treat it," Butin said, adding that he learned the information from the media.
Butin said he planned to raise the issue during a phone conversation with his daughter, scheduled for Thursday. He also believes that the sentencing may now be postponed for at least a week.
Maria Butina, 30, was arrested in Washington DC on July 15, right before the Helsinki meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump. The US Department of Justice said that she was suspected of acting "as an agent of Russia inside the United States by developing relationships with US persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation."
On December 13, Butina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the US law governing foreign agents operating in the country and signed a plea agreement. The prosecution said at the time that the process of Butina’s cooperation with the investigation might take some time.
Earlier Butin told TASS the family hoped that their daughter was due to arrive in Moscow before April 30 if the verdict, due on April 26, is favorable. He also said the issue of paying the defense team’s fees remained unsolved.