Russian gun activist Maria Butina, who has spent over a year behind bars in the US, is on a plane heading to Russia.
Butina’s case has become a glaring example of anti-Russian hysteria; she was quickly labeled as a “spy” by American media and wrongfully accused of trading sex for political favors.
Maria came to the US on a student visa in 2016 and was actively involved in pro-gun circles, namely the National Rifle Association (NRA). Her proclaimed goal was to expand gun rights in Russia – where they are restrictive – but she was ultimately nabbed by the FBI in July 2018, and faced allegations of conspiring to infiltrate the lobby group to promote Russian interests in the US.
Following her arrest, she spent nine months in custody, mostly in solitary confinement – a treatment that was described as exceedingly harsh and even amounting to torture – before pleading guilty to acting as a foreign agent without registration. The gun activist was eventually sentenced to 18 months in prison.ALSO ON RT.COMRussian gun activist Butina to touch down in Moscow Saturday after US prison release – envoy
Butina is being transferred from a federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida, to a migrant center in Miami where she will board a plane to Moscow and arrive in the Russian capital on Saturday morning. The repatriation of Butina is being overseen by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), which did not provide any details on the matter, citing the need to protect “operational security.”
Moscow denied any involvement with Butina and condemned her treatment in US prisons. President Vladimir Putin called her trial and sentence “a travesty of justice.”
“We’re glad that finally, after very long delays, the American justice [system] made the decision that we sought,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters.
Butina had merely become “collateral damage” in the ongoing anti-Russian hysteria and repeated attempts to find evidence of 'collusion' in President Donald Trump’s actions, independent journalist Martin Summers believes.
“Because they’ve got her caught up in this, they’ve got to think of something she's supposedly done. And she hasn’t done anything that could be classed as spying. We’ve now got to a ridiculous situation when any Russian person who comments on Western politics is accused of being some sort of agent for their own security services,” Summers told RT.
Being in prison was hard for Maria both physically and psychologically, and the first thing she needs to do is rest and recover, her father, Valery Butin, told RT.
“Every single day of imprisonment for any person would have been a very severe psychological trauma,” he said.
“Masha is a strong person; she never lost her fortitude even though she was held in solitary confinement for months. Nevertheless there are problems, for sure.”