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Accused Red Sparrow-style Russian agent traded sex for influence, prosecutors say

Accused Red Sparrow-style Russian agent traded sex for influence, prosecutors say

On at least one occasion, Butina also "offered an individual other than U.S. Person 1 sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization", prosecutors claimed in documents Wednesday.

An FBI affidavit submitted along with a criminal complaint against Butina last week said she and US Person 1 worked together to arrange introductions to other Americans who are influential in US politics, "including an organization promoting gun rights ... for the goal of advancing the agenda of the Russian Federation".

On Jan. 20, 2017, in response to a photo that Butina sent to Torshin near the U.S. Capitol on Inauguration Day, Torshin allegedly responded: "You're a daredevil girl!"

She has been accused of working with a high-powered Russian official and two unnamed American citizens, trying to infiltrate a pro-gun rights organisation in the United States and trying to influence U.S. foreign policy toward Russia.

The Justice Department said Butina had broken USA law by not disclosing to authorities that she was acting on behalf of the Russian government. In seeking her detention, prosecutors said that her "legal status in the United States is predicated on deception".

Prosecutors said: "The concern that Butina poses a risk of flight is only heightened due to her connection to suspected Russian intelligence operatives". That description would match Alexander Torshin, a former Russian senator and central banker who was one of 17 Russian government officials individually subjected to sanctions earlier this year for activities related to Syria and Ukraine as well as Crimea.

Butina was arrested over the weekend amid signs that she was planning to leave the country.

A federal district court judge on Wednesday ordered alleged Russian foreign agent Maria Butina to remain in custody while she awaits trial.

More news: Twelve Russian intelligence officers charged over USA election hacking

Prosecutors also detailed texts between the official and Butina in which the official compares her with Anna Chapman and asks if fans want her autographs yet.

In October 2016, "U.S. Person 1" told Butina in an email that he had "been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key "Political Party 1" leaders through, of all conduits, the "Gun Rights Organization.'" Helson concluded that this email showed the American's "involvement in Butina's efforts to establish a 'back channel" communication for representatives of the Government of Russian Federation".

In documents seized by the FBI, Butina "complained about living with U.S. Person 1", they wrote.

USA prosecutors allege that Butina sought to cultivate close ties with the NRA as a conduit to the Republican Party during the 2016 presidential election. She cancelled her lease, sent US$3,500 to an account in Russian Federation and inquired about renting a moving truck, prosecutors said.

Torshin has been described as a mentor to Butina, and both have been actively involved with the NRA in recent years.

Prosecutor Erik Kenerson told the court that "the evidence is overwhelming the defendant was here on behalf of the government of Russia.to carry out a covert influence campaign".

"This happened with the obvious task of minimising the positive effect" of this week's Helsinki summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. Authorities added that Butina has ties to wealthy businessmen in the Russian oligarchy.


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