nearvideo Russian agent Maria Butina sentenced to 18 months, with credit for time served
Butina pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered agent for the Kremlin; chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reports from the U.S. district court in Washington.
A lawyer for Maria Butina — the accused Russian agent who was sentenced to 18 months in prison to tell earlier this year-claims that the “possible misconduct of an FBI agent, or the associate, which investigated and prosecuted, Maria,” the defense was misled about the role of a well-known, wealthy CEO’s in the case.
In a letter to the Ministry of justice received from Fox News, Butina lawyer, Robert Driscoll, revealed Butina past relationship with Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne. Driscoll claims that he said, the government, he believed, Byrne — “who had a sporadic relationship with Mary over a period of years prior to the arrest” was a government informant.
“My speculation was flatly denied,” he said.
MARIA BUTINA SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS IN PRISON
But Driscoll said he believes that is wrong. “Mr Byrne is now with me and has confirmed that he, in fact, had a” non-standard arrangement “with the FBI for many years, and that the beginning of 2015, by Maria’s arrest, he communicates, and supports the agents of the government with the investigation of Maria.”
A new letter shows the role of the Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, in the case against Maria Butina. (Courtesy of Patrick M. Byrne, chairman and chief executive officer of Overstock.com.)
Accessible via E-Mail by Fox News on Friday afternoon, Byrne the information about his relationship confirmed with Butina in Driscoll’s letter.
Byrne’s involvement with Butina was for the first time, the journalist Sara Carter reported. In an interview with Carter, Byrne spoke of his decision to come forward with information, saying: “It was something I knew I had to do. The execution of the operation were not honest and, in the end, I realized that I was in a kind of “soft coup”.
The letter is addressed to the Ministry of justice, the Office of Professional Responsibility, as well as General-inspector Michael Horowitz and the US attorney John Durham. Horowitz and Durham, conducts investigations in connection with the Russia-probe, and Driscoll said, “it seems that some of the issues raised by the information I received, relate to FBI counterintelligence operations with respect to Russia in the run-up to the election in 2016.”
The Ministry of justice could not for a comment Friday afternoon can be achieved.
The letter said Byrne met Butina for the first time at the freedom fest convention in Las Vegas in July of 2015. Byrne then reported his contact with her to FBI agents who encouraged him to stay in contact with her, wrote Driscoll.
“As time passed, Byrne was more and more convinced that Mary was, what she said, she was an inquisitive student in favor of better US-Russian relations and not an agent of the Russian government, or someone, to espionage or illegal activities,” the letter States. “He says he conveys these thoughts and the convincing facts and observations about Mary at the government.”
A lawyer for Maria Butina speaks
The Russian foreign Ministry calls for the release of the accused spy Maria Butina; Robert Driscoll, lawyer, Butina, shares insight on ‘America’s News HQ.’
In April, Butina 18 months has been sentenced to prison by a Federal judge in Washington, after pleading guilty last year to a conspiracy charge. . They are removed from the United States, in a timely manner at the conclusion of their time, added to the judge, and to Russia sent back.
An emotional and apologetic Butina told the court at her sentencing that she was “really sorry”, and she regrets not registering as a foreign agent.
“I feel ashamed and embarrassed,” she said, adding that her “reputation is ruined.”
Butina imprisoned since their arrest in July 2018.
Prosecutors took advantage of to develop your contacts with the National Rifle Association and the National Prayer Breakfast, to collect relationships with US politicians and information, had claimed Butina for Russia.
In their filings, prosecutors, FBI said, agents Butina had found contact information for persons suspected of, employees of Russia’s Federal Security Services, or FSB, the successor intelligence agency to the KGB. In your house, you note a potential job is found-quote of the FSB, according to the documents.
Investigators recovered several E-Mails and Twitter direct-message conversations in which Butina pointed to the need to keep their work a secret, and in a case, it should be “incognito.” Prosecutors said Butina had contact with Russian intelligence officers and the FBI photographed your dinner with a diplomat, suspected of being a Russian secret service agent.
In his letter, Driscoll said Byrne, who is a managing Director of a public company, “a credible source of information”, and “little but a lot to lose, by disclosing a sporadic relationship with Maria.”
“He has also told that some of the details that he of the government in relation to Mary in the answer was an accusation—that is to say, he reported to the government, that Mary, the behavior and the interaction with him to be incompatible with their being a foreign agent, and more of an idealist and peace activist,” Driscoll said.
He added: “His claims of the study are worthy of. In fact, he has much to say about the government’s dealing with Mary, the event, far exceeding the…the question that I raise in this letter.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.