AP NEWS

Maria Butina appeals prison sentence received for Russian agent conviction

May 16, 2019

Maria Butina, a Russian fun rights activist convicted in the U.S. of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent, moved Wednesday to appeal her 18-month prison sentence.

Butina, 30, filed a notice of appeal in federal court formally challenging the punishment she received last month for pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy.

“I, the above named appellant, hereby appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from the above-stated judgment,” said the notice Butina signed with her lead defense attorney, Robert Driscoll.

The notice did not state a reason for appealing the sentence, and Mr. Driscoll did not immediately return a message seeking details.

A former student of American University, Butina was arrested last July and accused by the Department of Justice of infiltrating conservative groups, including the National Rifle Association, for the purpose of advancing Russian interests. She pleaded guilty in December and was sentenced in Washington, D.C., on April 26.

Butina has been in custody since her arrest, and her lawyers had hoped she would receive a sentence of time served and be swiftly deported back to Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted to Butina’s punishment by calling it “a travesty of justice,” and the Russian Embassy in D.C said recently that it has lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. State Department over her sentence.

Butina, on her part, recently referred to the prison sentence she received as “absolutely absurd.”

The Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment.