Convicted Russian agent Maria Butina was released on Friday, October 25 from a low security prison in Tallahassee, Florida after serving the bulk of an 18-month sentence.
The previous day, Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, had announced via Facebook that Butina was set to be released and would arrive in Moscow Saturday, October 26.
Tatyana Moskalkova, Russia's Commissioner for Human Rights, said she hoped the public and governmental pressure that helped secure Butina’s release would likewise “secure the return home of all of our fellow citizens who are in trouble abroad.”
Moskalkova has also called for Russian citizens Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko to be released from U.S. custody.
Bout is currently serving 25 years for conspiring to sell weapons to a foreign terrorist group, while Yaroshenko was sentenced to 20 years for drug smuggling.
Moskalkova’s claim that Butina is being returned to Russia on account of public and private pressure is false.
Last December, Maria Butina appeared before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, where she pleaded guilty to conspiracy and acting under the direction of the Russian government.
Butina had sought to cultivate ties with U.S. political groups and individuals -- primarily conservatives -- on behalf of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s Central Bank and a former Russian senator whom Spanish investigators have linked to Russian mafia activity.
Butina, who was facing five years in prison, waived her right to appeal and agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.
The judge presiding over the case, Tanya Chutkan, said that upon completion of the sentence, Butina would be denied the possibility of obtaining U.S. citizenship or a U.S. visa, prompting her immediate deportation upon release.
On April 26, Butina was sentenced to 18 months in prison, although the court credited her with nine months time served.
Her release had been scheduled for late November, but Butina’s lawyer Robert Driscol was quoted as saying that a change in federal law had allowed for his client’s early release on account of good behavior.
Credit towards service of sentence for satisfactory behavior or time off for good behavior is a regular feature of the U.S. criminal justice system.
Butina has served roughly 15 months of her 18-month sentence. During sentencing, her lawyers had requested that Butina’s prison term not exceed time served.
However, U.S. District Judge Chutkan chose to follow a stiffer sentencing recommendation based on the opinion of the former assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, Robert Anderson, who had requested 18 months.
Speaking from the bench, Chutkan said Butina’s offense was “serious” and “jeopardized this country’s national security.”
Polygraph.info therefore finds that Moskalkova’s claim that the “joint efforts by the bodies of power, human rights activists and the public” helped secure Butina’s return to Russia is false.