US arrests Russian woman accused of being Kremlin agent

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Washington, July 17 (IANS) A Russian woman was arrested in Washington on charges of being an unregistered foreign agent for the Kremlin, the US Justice Department announced Monday.

Maria Butina was taken into custody Sunday in the US capital, the government said, Efe reported.

She was charged with the crime of conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation in the United States without previously informing the authorities.

Butina, 29, a Washington resident, appeared Monday before a federal court, where the charges were officially brought against her and which ordered her to remain in prison without bond while awaiting another hearing set for next Wednesday.

Between 2015 and at least February 2017, the accused worked for a high official of the Russian Central Bank, who was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in April.

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Based on court documents, the government reported that Butina and the official were engaged in an effort to make her a Russian agent in the United States, networking with Americans and infiltrating companies that had influence over politicians in this country.

The charge against her said she did not inform the authorities of her real mission, which is required by law and is punishable with up to five years behind bars.

Her appearance in court came soon after US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, had their first bilateral summit in Helsinki.

That meeting was somewhat caught off guard last Friday when the Russia investigation indicted 12 Moscow agents for their alleged hacking and dissemination of information from Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 presidential election.

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–IANS

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