A lawyer for Maria Butina demanded in federal court Wednesday that prosecutors provide evidence to back up their salacious claim that the alleged Russian agent offered sex in exchange for access to an American political group.
According to CNN, Butina’s lawyer, Robert Driscoll, also asked prosecutors to turn over other potentially exculpatory evidence it might have on Butina, a 29-year-old Russian national who recently graduated from American University.
Department of Justice attorney Thomas Saunders said prosecutors are working to turn over 1.5 million pages of documents to Butina’s legal team. But he sought a gag order preventing Driscoll from discussing the materials in order to “protect the integrity of potential ongoing investigations.”
Butina was indicted July 17 on conspiracy charges and of acting as a foreign agent of Russia. The indictment claims Butina worked under the direction of Alexander Torshin, the deputy head of Russia’s central bank, to infiltrate American political groups, including a gun rights group widely believed to be the National Rifle Association. (RELATED: Gov’t Accuses Maria Butina Of Offering Sex For Access To Political Group)
Butina and Torshin developed close ties to NRA leaders and hosted trips to Russia for a pro-gun group they founded called The Right to Bear Arms.
The sex claims against Butina were revealed in a court filing submitted by the government July 18.
In the memo, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu said the government has evidence that “on at least one occasion, Butina offered an individual … sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.”
Liu included the information to argue that Butina should remain in custody while she awaits trial because she poses a flight risk. Liu argued that Butina has few ties to the U.S. She was in a romantic relationship with a Republican political operative named Paul Erickson, but Liu said that documents seized by the FBI showed that Butina complained about living with him. (RELATED: Grand Jury Indicts Maria Butina)
Liu also said the government has evidence that Butina might have been in contact with Russian intelligence operatives with the Russian FSB.
According to CNN, prosecutors said they are willing to provide the evidence to Driscoll with the stipulation that it cannot be shared with the media.
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