THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - September 13, 2018
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*-- U.S. judge denies accused Russian spy bail, issues gag order --*
A federal judge has denied bail and issued a gag order for a female gun rights activist accused of spying for Russia against the United States.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said Maria Butina, 29, who has been held in custody since mid-July would continue to be detained because she was a serious flight risk.
The judge also warned Butina's lawyer, Robert Driscoll, that he'd "crossed the line" in media interviews and by giving a video of his client singing a Disney song to ABC News. The video showed her singing "Beauty and the Beast" with an American man she said is her boyfriend.
"I'm not sure what on Earth their relevance is to Ms. Butina's risk of flight," Chutkan told Driscoll.
"There comes a point where your work defending this client needs to happen in this courtroom and not on the public airwaves."
The judge also ordered prosecutors in the case to stop talking about it in public.
Last week, prosecutors admitted they'd erred on the accusation that Butina offered to trade sex for political access -- due to misinterpreted text messages.
However, they have not stepped back from other claims.
The Justice Department announced in July that Butina, who had lived in Washington, D.C., was charged with conspiracy to act as a Russian agent.
She allegedly worked under the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government to develop relationships in the United States and infiltrate organizations with influence on U.S. politics, the Department of Justice said.
Butina's case is unrelated to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
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