Alleged Russian Agent Moved to Virginia Jail, Unclear Why
Betsy Woodruff, Pervaiz Shallwani
Maria Butina, the Russian national accused of acting as a Kremlin agent in the United States, was abruptly moved from a jail in Washington to a lockup in Alexandria, Virginia, according to her lawyer.
“I got a collect call from Maria from Alexandria Detention at midnight last night, but was disconnected before we could speak,” Robert Driscoll told The Daily Beast. “I couldn’t get in to the facility last night, but visited her this morning. She was not informed of the reason for the move. I was not notified of the move, and still am unaware of the reason.”
Amy Bertsch, a spokeswoman for the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, confirmed Butina arrived around 7 p.m. Friday at William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center, which also houses federal inmates. Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chief, is also currently being held at the same jail, awaiting the verdict in his trial for a host of .
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why Butina had been moved. Butina has pleaded not guilty to charges she acted as an covert Russian agent.
While the Manafort case is on trial two blocks from detention center, Butina’s case is slated for federal court in D.C. The jail has housed other high-profile inmates who have been on trial in D.C., including Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the Libyan militia leader who was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in Benghazi attacks. He was housed in the Alexandria detention center from his arrival in the U.S. in 2014 until this summer.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accused American officials of mistreating Butina in jail.
Butina attended graduate school at American University, and over several years built relationships with a host of leaders in the conservative movement. She began a romantic relationship with Paul Erickson, formerly a member of the board of the American Conservative Union, and he helped her build connections throughout the American right.
Court documents and public reports indicate that Russian billionaire Konstantin Nikolaev helped fund her activities in the U.S. The Daily Beast reported last week that she also had assistance from Igor Pisarsky, a prominent public affairs professional in Moscow whose firm has worked for a host of Kremlin clients.