Dual national Elena Branson of New York City was arrested Tuesday and charged with “working to advance the interests of the Russian government,” according to a Tuesday Department of Justice (DOJ) release.
Elena Branson, a dual Russia-U.S. citizen, allegedly incorporated the Russian Center New York with Kremlin approval & has been charged with illegally acting as a Russian agent & with willfully failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.https://t.co/64hSoBcvkV pic.twitter.com/dYvaCfUcaJ
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) March 8, 2022
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damien Williams, along with Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen and the FBI’s New York Field Office Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll revealed the charges against Branson through the filing of a Complaint, according to the DOJ release.
Branson, a dual citizen of both the U.S. and Russia, is charged with “acting and conspiring to act in the United States illegally as an agent of the Russian government,” according to the DOJ release. Branson is facing additional charges of “conspiring to commit visa fraud,” purposefully not registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and “making false statements to the FBI,” the DOJ release said.
Williams stated in the release that Branson allegedly “actively subverted foreign agent registration laws in the United States in order to promote Russian policies and ideology.” Williams also said in the release that Branson allegedly conspired with Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to opening up the Russian Center New York, a “Russian propaganda center.”
Williams said that Branson allegedly illegally promoted the interests of the Russian government in the U.S. while purposefully avoided registering as a Russian agent, according to the release. Branson also allegedly instructed others on how to avoid registering, Williams said in the release. (RELATED: Putin Takes Aim At Key Commodity, Raw Material Exports On The Heels Of Biden’s Russian Oil Ban)
Olsen added that Branson allegedly participated in a “lobbying scheme” under the “funding and direction of the Russian government.” Olsen also accused Branson of “leaving the American people in the dark,” the release said.
Driscoll stated in the release that Branson allegedly “shaped U.S. policy in favor of Russian objectives,” and that the FBI would continue working to uncover “Russian government networks who seek to harm our national security.”
Branson remains at large after she left the U.S. and flew to Russia in 2020, according to the release.