Alleged Russian Infiltrator Maria Butina Asks U.S. Judge to Dismiss Charges

(Bloomberg) -- Maria Butina asked a Washington federal judge to dismiss U.S. charges that she was an illegal agent of the Russian government sent to the U.S. to advance its interests.

Butina, who came on a student visa and enrolled at the American University in Washington, was indicted in July for conspiring to act as a foreign government agent and with failure to disclose her status to the U.S. She’s pleaded not guilty and was denied bail. She spent Nov. 10 -- her 30th birthday -- in jail.

In papers filed with U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington on Thursday, Butina’s attorneys argue that at least one, if not both of those charges should be dismissed. The latter is written too broadly to provide notice of what is a crime, they said.

"If fantasizing about a future career in diplomacy and jabbering about personal events and peace-building aspirations with others like a friend and mentor who happens to be an officer from some foreign government agency (whether or not that officer is then acting in an official capacity) makes one a foreign agent, then scores of people are unknowingly violating this statute," Butina’s lawyers said.

The Justice Department’s national security unit brought the charges against Butina.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Twitter cited its Press Director Maria Zakharova as saying Butina is a political prisoner in the U.S.

The case is U.S. v. Butina, 18-cr-218, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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