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Accused Russian secret agent pleads guilty

Posted: 11:26 AM, Dec 13, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-13 12:26:44-05
This Friday, Aug. 17, 2018 photo provided by the Alexandria, Va., Detention Center shows Maria Butina. (Alexandria Detention Center via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on Maria Butina, accused by the United States of being a secret agent for the Russian government (all times local):

12 p.m.

A woman accused of being a secret agent for the Russian government has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in federal court in Washington.

Maria Butina appeared in court after reaching a deal with prosecutors. As part of that deal, she says she tried to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and relay intelligence on American politicians to a Russian government official.

The case involving the 30-year-old gun rights activist has offered insight into how Moscow tries to influence American policy. But Butina's case is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Butina has agreed to cooperate with investigators. She'll remain jailed while awaiting sentencing.

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9:55 a.m.

A federal judge must sign off on the plea deal involving a woman accused of being a secret agent for the Russian government.

Maria Butina's court appearance came days after her lawyers and prosecutors filed legal papers asking to change her initial plea. They said they had "resolved" the case. She pleaded guilty Thursday to a conspiracy charge in federal court in Washington.

The 30-year-old gun rights activist is accused of gathering intelligence on American officials and political organizations. Prosecutors say Butina's work was directed by a former Russian lawmaker.

They say she worked to develop relationships with American politicians through her contacts with the National Rifle Association.

Butina's lawyer has argued she is simply a student interested in better U.S.-Russia relations.
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