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News: Top Stories

Secret Court Papers Hint Maria Butina May Testify in Another Trial

The Daily Beast logo The Daily Beast 12/15/2018 By (Adam Rawnsley)
a person posing for the camera: AP/Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast © Provided by The Daily Beast AP/Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

Confessed Russian spy Maria Butina may be gearing up to testify in another trial, according to sealed court papers briefly made public on Friday.

Federal prosecutors in Washington, DC filed a motion to file under seal, prosecutors asked to file an authorization for transportation in secrecy so that Butina could testify in an unspecified “pending criminal investigation." The Washington Post’s Spencer Hsu first discovered and published a portion of the document on Twitter.

Butina’s attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast.

Butina pleaded guilty this week to acting as a foreign agent for Russia and attempting to use her access to conservative groups to build a secret backchannel between the Kremlin and the Trump administration. As part of her plea deal, Butina agreed to cooperate “in any and all to matters as to which the Government deems this cooperation relevant.”  

The Justice Department has not said what they might ask Butina to cooperate with but her boyfriend, conservative activist Paul Erickson, reportedly received a target letter from federal prosecutors informing him that he may also be prosecuted for acting as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia.

The motion Friday requested secrecy because its release “would pose a risk to the defendant’s safety and the safety of the community” and could be used by those who would “seek to harm or intimidate the defendant.”

Prosecutors have taken note the Russian government’s keen interest in Butina’s case. In court papers filed in September, the Justice Department pointed to the half dozen visits Russian diplomats had made to Butina and claimed that they demonstrated her association with and value to the Russian government.

Its release marks the second time in recent weeks that prosecutors have tipped the public off to secret proceedings. In November, prosecutors in Virginia accidentally disclosed the fact that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had been charged in the U.S.

Read more at The Daily Beast.


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