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Russian National Maria Butina Sentenced To 9 More Months In Prison

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Russian national Maria Butina was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday after pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge Dec. 13.

She’ll get credit for nine months already served, reported The Hill.

The Justice Department recommended an 18-month prison sentence for Butina April 19. Prosecutors claim she helped the Russian government by reporting back to Moscow on political figures in the U.S.

Butina has been in jail since her arrest in July. Her attorneys asked that she receive time served ahead of the sentencing, reported ABC News. She will likely be deported to Russia when she is released from prison.

Butina’s story has attracted media attention for prosecutors’ spy novel-esque claims. Federal prosecutors walked back accusations in September that Butina offered “sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.” However, Butina admitted that she worked on behalf of the Russian government from 2015 through 2017 under the direction of a Russian government official identified as Alexander Torshin.

“Butina’s work involved building a rolodex of and information about powerful people who had, or were likely to get, access to and influence over the next presidential administration,” prosecutors said in a filing earlier in April. “Butina’s reports back to the Russian Official on the people she was meeting have all the hallmarks of spotting-and-assessing reports.”

There has been speculation Russia is detaining a U.S. citizen as leverage because of Butina’s case. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has denied that Paul Whelan is being held for a possible prisoner swap, reported the Associated Press.

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