“The government’s understanding of this particular text conversation was mistaken”
In July, the Department of Justice charged Russian national Maria Butina with conspiring to defraud the United States and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
U. S. prosecutors admitted they misread text messages they used in court Friday to claim that Butina traded sex for access. They were attempting to show Butina as a flight risk and say the mistake should not diminish their case to continue holding her. She had been denied bond in July, but her attorney wants her released on home confinement.
U.S. prosecutors have acknowledged they misunderstood text messages they used to claim in court that a Russian woman traded sex for access and should be jailed pending trial on charges she was a foreign agent attempting to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and other American conservative groups.
The concession came in a late-night court filing Friday in which prosecutors said Maria Butina, 29, should stay in custody as a flight risk but wrote “the government’s understanding of this particular text conversation was mistaken.”
Butina’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, stated that the “only evidence the government relied on for its explosive claim was an excerpt from an innocuous three-year-old text exchange sent in Russia between Ms. Butina and DK, her longtime friend, assistant, and public relations man for The Right to Bear Arms gun rights group that she founded.”
The messages between the pair were sent after DK took Butina’s car for a yearly inspection.
“I don’t know what you owe me for this insurance they put me through the wringer,” DK wrote to Butina, according to court filings.
Butina replied: “Sex. Thank you so much. I have nothing else at all.”
Butina later said DK could “ask for anything” including “that they hire you.”
Driscoll said this was “clearly a joke” because he already worked for Butina’s gun-rights organization.
Prosecutors admitted Friday that they were “mistaken” and may have misunderstood the text messages that were used as the basis of the claim.
Both parties will be back in court on Monday for a status conference.DONATE
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