Accused Russian spy Maria Butina has struck a plea deal with prosecutors and admitted that she acted under the direction of a Russian official in the United States.
Butina will plead guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to violate foreign agent laws, and she will cooperate with prosecutors as part of the agreement, according to court documents released Thursday.
Butina was arrested in July and charged with conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent. She had ingratiated herself with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Republican Party prior to her arrest, frequently attending political events and casting herself as a gun rights activist.
Prosecutors allege she tried to make those contacts in the US at the behest of a “Russian official” and at least one other person. The Russian official is believed to be Russian central bank official Alexander Torshin, a longtime figure in Russian politics and avid gun-rights activist.
She was assisted in her efforts to make political contacts by a US citizen, who is identified in court documents as “US Person 1” and who is believed to be Republican political consultant Paul Erickson, according to NBC News.
Prosecutors say that with US Person 1’s assistance and the direction of the Russian official, Butina “sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence in US politics.”
They add that Butina made those contacts for the “benefit of the Russian Federation, acting through a Russian official.”
Prosecutors in the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia brought the charges, which are not connected to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Read the plea agreement and statement of offense here or below.