by Jason Hopkins
Convicted Russian agent Maria Butina was released from prison Friday and transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, where she awaits deportation from the U.S.
Butina was released from a low-security prison Friday in Tallahassee, Florida, and is in the custody of federal immigration authorities, an ICE spokeswoman confirmed. The 30-year-old Russian national was sentenced to 18 months jail time after pleading guilty in December 2018 to conspiracy to act as a foreign agent.
However, it’s not clear when exactly Butina will be removed from the country.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) took custody of Maria Butina, 30, a citizen and national of Russia, after her release from federal prison today. For operational security, ICE does not discuss specific removal arrangements prior to an individual’s successful repatriation,” ICE spokeswoman Tamara Spicer wrote in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation on Friday.
Butina was arrested and charged in July 2018 of trying to influence U.S. political organizations on behalf of the Russian government. She ultimately agreed to work with U.S. prosecutors and pleaded guilty in December 2018 to one count of conspiring to act as a foreign agent.
During her time in the U.S., Butina immersed herself in conservative politics. She became a public advocate for gun rights and tried to make political connections through her American boyfriend, Paul Erickson, a longtime GOP operative. Following her arrest, she admitted that she took direction from a Russian government official regarding her U.S. political activities.
Butina previously maintained that she simply wanted to improve relations between the two countries.
The Russian government, incensed over Butina’s prison sentence, accused the U.S. of forcing her to make a false confession.
“It’s not clear what she was convicted of or what crime she committed,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in April, according to Reuters. “I think it’s a prime example of ‘saving face.’ They arrested her and put the girl in jail. But there was nothing on her, so in order not to look totally stupid they gave her, fixed her up, with an 18-month sentence to show that she was guilty of something.”
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Jason Hopkins is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.